Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness has revealed he is a “member of the beautiful HIV-positive community”.
The Netflix makeover show’s hair expert spoke with the New York Times about his new memoir, Over The Top, which is out this week.
Van Ness said it is “hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven’t shared publicly.”
“I’ve had nightmares every night for the past three months because I’m scared to be this vulnerable with people,” he said.
But, he added, “these are issues that need to be talked about.”
Van Ness said he discovered his HIV status when working at a hair salon at age 25. He said he fainted while working on a client’s hair. The next day a doctor tells him he tested positive for HIV.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he said.
But the 32-year-old wants to shatter misconceptions around HIV, because he is now healthy and a proud “member of the beautiful H.I.V.-positive community”.
“When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?’” he continued.
“And then I was like, ‘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.”
Jonathan Van Ness’ co-stars, fans and fellow celebrities reacted on social media with an outpouring of love.
Co-star Antoni Poroswki tweeted: “Love you, proud of you.”
Style guru Tan France added: “LOVE YOU, JACKI”. Bobby Berk also wrote: “So proud of you.”
I knew I loved @jvn but I didn’t realize I had even more of a reason to love him. It’s so important for EVERYONE (queer/str8) to recognize that being poz is chill AF. HIV stigma is trash. Throw your ideas and phobias away! HIV=
— andee eskobar (@theandyescobar) September 22, 2019
— Cecil Baldwin (@CecilBaldwinIII) September 22, 2019
Big admiration to Jonathan Van Ness @jvn today for disclosing his HIV status and history with addiction. Every time someone opens these tough conversations, stigma is eroded, and people's lives are made safer and easier, and we all benefit.
— Nicole Stamp (@nicolestamp) September 23, 2019
Jonathan Van Ness opens up about sexual abuse and drug addiction
Jonathan Van Ness also reveals in his new memoir he is a survivor of sexual assault at a young age.
The abuse he experienced “planted the seed for other self-destructive behaviors” later in life, Van Ness told the Times. He said as a result he has a lot of “compounded trauma”.
Van Ness said and dropped out of college after one year, struggling with sex and drug addiction into his early 20s.
He was admitted to rehab twice and relapsed both times. But since then, he has beat addiction and is healthy.
“These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup,” he wrote.
“That doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid, but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”
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