Jonathan Van Ness has always been pretty candid about his life; all you need to do is watch an episode of Queer Eye or check out his social media to see he’s an open book (not to mention an aspiring gymnast and figure skater). But he’s revealing more than ever before in his upcoming memoir — particularly about his HIV status.
The New York Times has an excerpt from his book, Over the Top, in which Van Ness revealed when and how he found out he was HIV-positive. He was 25, and after fainting and experiencing flu-like symptoms, he went to Planned Parenthood to get checked out. “That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” Van Ness writes. Since then, he describes himself as a “member of the beautiful HIV-positive community.” Van Ness is now healthy, having recovered from his addiction to cocaine and meth after two stints in rehab, and hopes his candour surrounding the subject will shut down common misconceptions. “When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?'” he told the Times. “I do feel the need to talk about this,” later adding, “I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”
JVN acknowledged that it hasn’t been easy. “I’ve had nightmares every night for the past three months because I’m scared to be this vulnerable with people. It’s hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven’t shared publicly.” And even though we presume that the vivacious personality we always see is what we’re going to get, he admitted that it’s not always like that, which can be tough for people to accept. “If you’re having a terrible moment or in the middle of a conversation about something serious, people don’t care,” he explained. “They want their bubbly JVN and to get that major selfie.” But give a guy a break. He can’t be on all the time.
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Having the opportunity to write my book and share my story with you is the most important opportunity I’ve ever had. The first article about the book came out today from the @nytimes & I’m relieved I can speak fully about the things that shape my experience in life. The book speaks to some extremely difficult times but it’s also filled with my humor, joy and voice & I can’t wait to share it with you fully. Thanks so much for your support so far, it means the world. Article link in bio 🏳️🌈 📸 Isak Tiner words by Alex Hawgood
Van Ness also revealed he was the victim of sexual abuse, detailing an alleged encounter with an older boy when he was a child. “For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma.”
The people who know him best, though, have nothing but love and support for their Jonathan. All you have to do is check out the comments section on his post. Jonathan’s Queer Eye co-star Antoni Porowski wrote, “Love you proud of you.” Bobby Berk added, “Love you baby boy. So proud of you,” and Tan France wrote “LOVE YOU, JACKI.” And celebs including Olivia Wilde, Sophia Bush, Darcy Carden, Tess Holliday, Adam Rippon, Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano have all applauded Van Ness for his courage and inspiration.
Over the Top comes out September 24.
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