Shocking News On Project Runway

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Well. That whole "cheater" teaser was such a manipulative misdirection. The producers are jerks! But last night's episode was one of the most stunning, ever.

The HP challenge required the contestants to create their own textile design. Mondo's idea had a plus sign at the heart of it. He admitted, in a confessional, that the symbol stood for his HIV positive status.

In other news, Mondo clearly got his "cute" gene from his mom.

After keeping his secret from the judges and his castmates, Mondo revealed his HIV-positive status on the runway after judging, and then said, "I feel a lot better. I feel free." He is just so lovable.

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On to the runway…

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April's print referenced her parents getting divorced when she was 13 — and feeling pulled in two directions. I didn't love this dress, I thought it skewed a little Goth Ice Capades. Guest judge Rachel Roy said this was her favorite print. Heidi Klum didn't think it was flattering, even though it was beautiful. But April was safe.

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Gretchen grew up in the Southwest and made a Native American-ish squash blossom pattern. For once she made something NOT baby poop-colored, for which I was grateful. That said, this blouse is a little odd. Michael Kors called it Olivia Newton-John disco-earthy. Rachel Roy called it "almost." Gretchen was safe.

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Christopher made a really lovely print inspired by San Francisco and the ocean. Nina Garcia said it was "not fashion," and Heidi Klum called it "nice, safe, boring." Michael Kors added that the last thing you want anyone to say is, "It was nice." (I would totally wear this!) Christopher was safe.

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Michael C. made something MIchael Kors said looked like a man's vest and tie. Heidi Klum hated the styling, saying the yellow pumps were "too matchy-matchy." But! Mike C. was safe.

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Andy was so excited to see his mom, he forgot to design something awesome. Nina Garcia said she was "so disappointed." He made a sleepy-face blouse and skated by on his past performance, I'd wager.

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Who can take the sunshine? And sprinkle it with dew? Mix crazy prints together and make it look happy too? Mondo can. Mondo can! Mondo was the winner, again!

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His outfit looked even better without the jacket. Nina said simply, "It's terrific." Michael Kors called it sharp, and full of joy. And Nina added, "If I had to book something to shoot, that would be it." MONDO FOREVER.

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Poor Valerie. She seems like a super nice, talented person. But her dress was too similar to the napkin dress from the Party Glitter challenge. Everyone hated this ensemble and she was auf'd. She did give a very sincere, gracious, generous and eloquent exit speech, however. And her upbeat attitude will be missed.

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Since we already saw images from the finale fashion show, in which I guessed (wrongly) that Valerie was in the final 3, my guesses now are April, Andy and Mondo. I see Mondo taking it all, winning the whole thing, and becoming an amazing role model for everyone on the planet.

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DISCUSSION

His decision to reveal his status might have been lost to some as difficult. However I personally know how wrenching his revelation was. See, I’ve been HIV positive for the past 25 years and I had a similar event occur.

In 2002, after being devastated as many were by the events of 9/11 and it’s effect on the city where I once lived, I did my own soul-searching and decided to tell my story. I ended up writing a short article about my life’s journey with HIV and it was published on Salon.com. In it I wrote about my time from when I was first informed I was positive through being officially diagnosed with AIDS to what my life was like then.

While I’d come out over the years to many about my status, this was a giant leap for me to publicly declare my situation in a national forum. I was naturally nervous about being so "open" but at the same time, like Mondo expressed on the show, I felt that somehow it was time.

Coincidentally my article’s acceptance came at the same time I was home visiting my mother in Florida. I was constantly on the computer emailing with the editor about changes and alterations and it was all under a very very fast time line. Within three days it was posted on their site. My mother was naturally curious as to what had me so involved and I told her something I had written had been bought and was being published and she was insistent about reading it. So I stood, let her sit at the computer and read what I wrote. She didn’t know until that point that I was HIV positive.

It wasn’t easy to watch her reactions. I had already lived with the virus for 15 years and while I’d gone through some difficult adjustments, I had also come to terms with my status as well. Like coming out as gay, there’s one’s own discovery of your identity but there’s also the coming out process for others as they grapple with the situation themselves, struggling to amend the information with their own personal beliefs and history. This is what my mother went through when she found out I had AIDS.

So Mondo’s experience was not only emotional to watch, it was very personal. I was a little surprised to see how in this day and age, almost 30 years after the plague began, the fear and hiding and deception continue to haunt people. I’ve come to be open and honest about my status when appropriate - I’ve written about it on Salon, in various blogs I’ve had and if asked I openly state my situation - but it was a wake-up call that so many haven’t been as lucky as I’ve been. It’s different for each and every person, there is no right or wrong way to expose yourself as vulnerable, but I see hope that the actions of brave people like Mondo might help make it easier for others.

My article in Salon did. I was amazed at the emails and notes of support I got. I’m guessing Mondo will receive the same, as well he should. On the show, he refrained from coming out to his mother as positive - a situation that will be changed by, if nothing else, the airing of the episode. I hope he does address it sooner rather than later. My mother passed a few years after I’d told her and I never regret sharing it with her. It was a part of me that I should not hide. It’s what, in one of life’s ironic twists, made me who I am today and we’re lucky and privileged he shared it with the world.