So brave. Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness is set to release his upcoming memoir, Over the Top, on September 24. Ahead of its release, the star opened up about his HIV-positive status in an interview with the New York Times published on Saturday, September 21.
“I’ve had nightmares every night for the past three months because I’m scared to be this vulnerable with people,” the 32-year-old told the NYT. “There are issues that need to be talked about.”
Van Ness explained that he tested positive for HIV when he was 25 years after he fainted while working on a client’s hair. He had been experiencing flulike symptoms, so he went to a Planned Parenthood to seek medical treatment.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he wrote in an excerpt from Over the Top, obtained by the NYT.
But Van Ness maintains a positive outlook and he considers himself “member of the beautiful HIV-positive community.” He also explained that it is important for him to be transparent about his experience because, with his new platform as a star on Netflix’s reboot of the popular mid-aughts series, he will be able to debunk common misconceptions about people living with HIV.
“When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?’” he said but explained that he later changed his mind because of the current political climate. “I do feel the need to talk about this.”
Along with his HIV status, Van Ness was also very forthcoming about the traumatic experiences he went through in his life. At a young age, Van Ness was abused by an older boy and he said that experience led him down a difficult path. In his teens, Van Ness had encounters with older men and in college, he “advertised sex for money on Gay.com,” according to the NYT.
Van Ness also opened up about his struggle with addiction and revealed that in his early 20s, he started using cocaine and methamphetamine. After two stints in rehab, Van Ness has not used hard drugs since.
“These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup,” Van Ness said. “That doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid, but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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