Jonathan Van Ness Wants to Talk About his HIV Status

Saturday September 21, 2019

When fans of "Queer Eye's" Jonathan Van Ness read his upcoming memoir "Over the Top," due out on September 24, they will likely be surprised by his frankness, which includes the disclosure that he is HIV-positive.

"For much of the summer, Mr. Van Ness, 32, has been mentally preparing himself for the release of his piercing memoir... in which a different image of Mr. Van Ness unspools with remarkable transparency," writes the New York Times in an interview with Van Ness

"Subtitled a 'Raw Journey to Self-Love,' the book doesn't so much explode as offer psychological insight into the hirsute gay fairy godmother in heels or, as he puts it, "the effervescent, gregarious majestic center-part-blow-dry cotton-candy figure-skating queen" that he portrays on 'Queer Eye.'

"It's hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven't shared publicly," he said. He cracked his knuckles as he fidgeted from nerves. "These are issues that need to be talked about," he told the Times.

Amongst them is his revealing how he learned he had HIV. It happened when he was in his early 20s living in Los Angeles, supporting himself working in a hair salon and addicted to methamphetamine.

"One day, when he was 25, he fainted in a salon while highlighting a client's hair. The next day he went to Planned Parenthood to diagnose his flulike symptoms. He tested positive for H.I.V.," writes the Times

"That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be," Van Ness writes in the book.

How he reached this point is chronicled in the Times article, as well as how he cleaned up his act and became an Internet media star (with "Gay of Thrones"), which led to becoming a commentator on the red carpets of major awards shows and "Queer Eye" (after many weeks of auditioning).

"Mr. Van Ness hopes to bring attention to what he calls "gorgeous beauty moments" like that with his memoir, especially misperceptions about being H.I.V. positive. He is healthy and now describes himself as an out-and-proud "member of the beautiful H.I.V.-positive community," writes the Times.

"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 L.G.B.T. community thrive around me.'" He paused before adding, "I do feel the need to talk about this."