School of Cultural Studies and Humanities

LGBTQ+ History Month: Destigmatising Narratives of HIV, Past and Present - Nathaniel Hall

As part of LGBT+ history month we welcome Nathaniel Hall to discuss the stigmatism around HIV+ people. Jessica Van Horssen, Senior lecturer in History, tells us about the upcoming event. 

A photograph or Nathaniel Hall cheering with his arms up with streamers falling around him and a shiny curtain backdrop

“Can you remember your first time? I can’t seem to forget mine.” So begins the promotional video for Nathaniel Hall’s award-winning one-man show, First Time. Hall contracted HIV during his first sexual experience when he was 16 years old. 

He came out as gay when he was 17, but kept his HIV status a secret from friends and family until 2019, when he “came out” a second time and detailed his experience with the virus in his play, First Time. Russell T. Davies saw Hall’s show at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019, while he was writing the new Channel 4 show, It’s A Sin, which focusses on the HIV/AIDS Epidemic of 1980s Britain, and Hall plays Donald in the series.

Hall’s experience with HIV is significantly different from those portrayed in It’s a Sin, and from the lived experience of the virus for much of its history. Medical advances have progressed so much since the first outbreak of the virus that Hall cannot transmit the virus to anyone else. His partner also takes a medication called Prep that prevents him from contracting the virus. This is remarkable considering the devastating history of HIV and have led many to believe that we will end new occurrences of the virus by 2030. This is incredible considering that as of 2019, between 24.8 million and 42.2 million have died of AIDS since the early 1980s. This is not a “gay disease” and it effects everyone. 

We teach about the history of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic on the History course at Leeds Beckett. At the second year, Thatcher’s Britain explores the impact of the virus in the UK, and at the final year, in Civil Rights in North America, students explore the effects of the virus in the United States, and how it helped strengthen the LGBTQ+ rights movement. To have Hall speak as part of the University’s LGBT+ History Month is a fantastic opportunity to bring the past to the present—and future—of HIV. Hall will speak about his own history with the virus and how that connects to the longer history featured in It’s A Sin. He’ll also speak about the creative process he underwent in writing First Time, and in playing a key role in the television drama. In this way, he will illustrate the best of what the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities has to offer: History, Creative Writing/English, and Media.

Nathaniel Hall's First Time -

It's a Sin: First look at Russel T Davis' new drama -

Nathaniel Hall will be speaking for us on Wednesday, 24th February a 14:00. To book your place, please follow this link: 


Dr Jessica Van Horssen

Senior Lecturer / School of Cultural Studies & Humanities

Dr. Jessica van Horssen's scholarship focusses on the history of environmental health in North America and the wider world. Her work highlights the connections between modernity and toxicity in bodies of land, human bodies, and the body politic.

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By School of Cultural Studies and Humanities
02 Aug 2021
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