A Nightmare in Hollywood Couldn't Kill Mark Patton

In an exclusive interview with HIV Plus, the iconic star of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 comes out as HIV-positive and reflects on why Hollywood’s homophobia caused him to walk away from his dream.



Slowly Patton’s health improved and he began what he describes as the happiest chapter in his life to date.  He moved to Mexico where he met and fell in love with Hector Morales Mondragon, the man who would later become his husband. The two of them currently own and run an art store in Puerto Vallarta where Patton also sells works of his own, including a line of painted handbags he designed.

In 2010, Patton’s life had come full-circle when the makers of Never Sleep Again, an exhaustive documentary about the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, tracked him down and asked him to speak candidly about his experience as a part of the Elm Street legacy. It was then he learned that Nightmare on Elm Street 2 had gained a cult following and was being celebrated by both the horror film and LGBT communities as one of the gayest horror movies of all time. The subtext that once caused him grief had now made him a hero for fans. Patton agreed to appear in the documentary and was finally able to freely address his sexuality to the fans of Freddy’s franchise. Vindicating Patton was that the documentary also featured screenwriter Chaskin, who finally admitted on record he had intentionally woven gay subtext into the script of Freddy’s Revenge.

Since the release of Never Sleep Again, Patton has toured horror conventions around the world where he is now embraced as the first “male scream queen” of mainstream horror. He also sells T-shirts featuring some of the more titillating classic lines from the film as well as a few of the antigay slurs, such as “Jesse is a Homo,” that were once used to describe his now-iconic character—another negative that has become a positive in his life. Most of the money he earns from his appearances is donated to HIV treatment organizations and LGBT youth charities such as The Trevor Project.

He tells me he’s currently planning to release a documentary of his own, titled There is No Jesse, which will focus both on his part in the Elm Street phenomenon and the real-life nightmares he has endured since filming the movie. He’s been gearing up for the emotional journey that will inevitably follow as he shares the truth about his most personal battles and his HIV status.  

“The only thing we’re waiting for is me,” he says. “It’s not that I’m embarrassed in any way, but I’m a private person, and I have a different life now. These are parts of my story that have never been published before, and I’ve had to think about whether or not I was prepared to have those conversations over and over again. But I’ve decided to share them with you today because I think I’m ready to tell the next part of the story.” He straightens up in his chair and smiles again before adding, “It’s my obligation to tell it the way it happened, and it’s a story that needs to be told. I’ve looked at my mortality, and I lived through it.”

As he finishes his Diet Coke he says, “That advice that my father gave me all those years ago has proved to be true. I’m authentically me, and now every day I feel more free. I’m so thankful I have so many stories to tell and have lots of different ways I can tell them. Whether it’s cooking you dinner, painting you a purse, or making a movie — it doesn’t matter. I’m a storyteller and I have a fabulous memory. So watch out because I don’t forget a thing.”

Tags: HIV & AIDS