In a new profile for the New York Times, Jonathan Van Ness reveals that he has been living with HIV and has struggled with revealing his status since the explosion in popularity of Netflix’s “Queer Eye.”
Van Ness was diagnosed when he was 25 years old, and found out while highlighting a client’s hair at the salon he was working at.
“When ‘Queer Eye’ came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?,” he said in the interview. “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.”
“Queer Eye” has become incredibly popular for more than just its entertainment value, but also the willingness on behalf of Van Ness and his co-stars to discuss topics that may be considered “taboo” to your every day Netflix subscriber. That said, one could see why he would be hesitant to reveal something so major. Just last week, we reported that rugby legend Gareth Thomas was blackmailed into coming out as HIV positive, in fear a publication would run with the story and steal that moment from him.
The profile details other aspects of Van Ness’ life, such as his upcoming memoir “Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love,” which is being released this week. There are other, darker topics that are also discussed such as his addiction to drugs and sex.
In a particularly vulnerable section of the profile, writer Alex Hawgood details JVN’s time where he flunked out of his first year of college. It was shortly after this time he had met a couple on Grindr who had introduced him to meth, which landed him in rehab (twice). He had previously been advertising himself on Gay.com in an attempt to make money (he had blown a gift of $200 from his mother on cocaine).
And while Van Ness has “cleaned up his act” (he admits to occasionally drinking and smoking marijuana), the profile is an incredibly sobering look into someone who has made their name on being a traditionally “bubbly” personality. It’s a reminder that celebrities are people too, each with their own struggle(s); in this age of social media and “knowing everything about everyone,” there’s still a lot about people we do not know.
However, it’s wonderful that someone of JVN’s stature is willing to be so vulnerable and forthcoming about their HIV status. This will hopefully continue to chip away at the stigmas people living with HIV face everyday.
“These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup,” he said. “That doesn’t mean ‘Queer Eye’ is less valid, but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”
Read the full profile on the New York Times website.