Real Stories, Real Lives: Pi | Actors Fund

Real Stories, Real Lives: Pi

September 21, 2016 | Services & ProgramsClient Stories

As an openly gay man, Pi had always been comfortable in his own skin. And through talent, hard work, and dedication to his craft, he had fulfilled his dream of becoming a professional stage dancer.

Then his confidence was shattered when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1989.

With his health declining, what would happen to this principal dancer’s career—which he’d put his heart and soul into for so long? He struggled to muster every ounce of strength to fight his life-threatening condition and yet still had to worry about how he was going to pay his rent and put food on the table.

Where would Pi find the help he desperately needed?

Fortunately, he learned about The Actors Fund from a fellow performer and contacted us. Since his Broadway debut back in 1969, Pi had given joy and thrills to audiences for performance after performance, week after week. It was time for our community to give back.

Thanks to your support, Pi received financial aid, encouragement, and support through our HIV/AIDS Initiative, which offers comfort, counseling and education to those diagnosed with the disease.

“I got involved in their support groups,” Pi says, “to learn as much as I could about living with HIV and the medications that were available at the time. The Actors Fund helped me embrace my HIV and I no longer felt that I had to run away from it.”

Since Pi’s diagnosis, new medical treatments have changed the scope of the disease so it’s no longer a death sentence. Instead, HIV has become a chronic health condition that creates long-term emotional, medical and financial needs for those infected.

That’s where The Actors Fund’s wide range of services comes in—the kind of expert, caring services Pi has benefited from over the last two decades.

Following a hospital stay, he lived at our Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence. This is where low-income people—including seniors, working professionals, and people with HIV/AIDS—have a secure and welcoming home.

Thanks to your generosity, The Fund has also worked with Pi to manage his health insurance options. Plus, your suppor helped him financially so he could be fitted with hearing aids, and have major dental work to restore his infectious smile.

And though his dancing days are behind him, your ongoing support helps Pi continue to nurture and nourish his creativity through our Writers Group. “In an industry of rejection,” Pi explains, “The Actors Fund provides a supportive environment that keeps me connected to the arts community. The Writers Group provides an important outlet for my artistic voice.”

“The Actors Fund stabilizes me, provides me with a touchstone, knowing that when I need it, it is always here for me,” said Pi.

Learn more about our free and confidential programs and services for everyone in performing arts and entertainment and the many ways you can support The Actors Fund.