Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness has revealed he is HIV-positive in an eye-opening profile for the New York Times. Ahead of the release of his memoir Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love on Sept. 24, the Netflix reboot's star opened up to the outlet about his past addiction to drugs and sex, being a victim of sexual assault, and testing positive for HIV at 25.
The emotional profile details Van Ness' childhood, growing up in Quincy, Illinois as part of a wealthy family behind the Quincy Media company, breaking barriers as the first male cheerleader in high school while putting up with abuse from the stands and his lack of self-esteem through those years.
This period also saw him combat his lack of self-esteem with nights on AOL chat rooms, meetings with older men for sexual encounters, binge eating and eventually moving on to the University of Arizona. His first semester continued to trend, with Van Ness spending his monthly $200 allowance on cocaine and opting to advertise himself for sex work online before flunking out of the school by the end of his first year.
The “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness opens up to The New York Times about being an addict, a sexual abuse survivor and H.I.V. positive https://t.co/WdEJ6oQeGG— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 21, 2019
From there he earned his beautician certificate at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis, moving back to Arizona to be with his ailing grandmother and become an assistant at a local salon.
By this point his sex and drug addiction hit a new low according to The New York Times, with methamphetamine use landing him in rehab twice and his eventual discovery that he was positive for HIV.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” Van Ness says.
He did turn things around, moved to LA supported by family money and ended up working with Funny or Die on Gay of Thrones, offering humorous recaps of the fantasy series alongside a revolving array of comedic guests. The online series was nominated for three Creative Arts Emmys and its success opened the door for Queer Eye's revival on Netflix. He details how the series has opened up a platform for him to speak out for the community and change misconceptions about being HIV-positive.
"The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatization of the LGBT community thrive around me. I do feel the need to talk about this.”September 21, 2019
Van Ness also indicates that the Trump administration has made the need for him to speak up more important than ever.
“When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?,” Van Ness told the Times. “And then I was like, ‘The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatization of the L.G.B.T. community thrive around me...I do feel the need to talk about this.”0comments
The full profile can be read over at the New York Times and is well worth the time. The latest season of Queer Eye is currently streaming on Netflix, while Van Ness was most recently spotted meeting Sophie Turner at the VMAs.
You can pick up Van Ness' memoir when it is released on the Sept. 24.