Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye fame has revealed that he is HIV positive in his new memoir, Over the Top, which also details being sexually abused at age 4, battling drug use and sex addiction and a stint as a sex worker.
In a new profile for the New York Times, the Netflix star shares how the current political climate prompted him to go public about being a “member of the beautiful HIV positive community.” The 32-year-old had initially feared that coming clean about his diagnosis would sabotage the success he’s seen as Queer Eye’s effervescent hair guru.
“When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?” he said. “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.”
Van Ness says he was 25 years old when he was diagnosed with HIV; he had gone to a Planned Parenthood clinic a day after fainting in the salon where he worked.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes in Over the Top, per the Times. The newspaper describes him as “healthy,” while a second profile in Britain’s Observer says that the “virus is now undetectable in his blood.”
Van Ness told the British paper that he hopes to “humanize and normalize” living with HIV and the other issues he’s dealt with, adding that his experiences have helped him become more of an activist.
“I absolutely do not think I’d have been as socially aware or conscious or want to make as much of a difference,” he told the Observer. “It gave me a reason to really fight.”
Van Ness’s story — and his “you’re never too broken to be fixed” mantra — have been met with a flood of supportive responses from his Queer Eye co-stars and a number of celebrities and fans.
@jvn Thank you for your honestly and for sharing your experiences. There is still so much stigma with HIV and there shouldn’t be. Thank you for shining a light!— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) September 21, 2019
Some critics, however, have accused him of unfairly blaming Trump.
How did we know the story would SOMEHOW be made about Trump. Good grief.— JustAGirl (@JustAGirlIn415) September 22, 2019
To Jonathan Van Ness, I sincerely hope you get the best medical attention possible, Trump is not interested in stigmatizing you or anyone else— It Was A (@softOctober) September 22, 2019
So let me get this straight!! Jonathan Van Ness is HIV Positive and it’s President Trump’s fault!! Unbelievable! 🙄— Vallerie Hackett (@HackettVallerie) September 21, 2019
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