- Jonathan Van Ness came out as HIV-positive for an interview with The New York Times ahead of the release of his memoir “Over the Top” on Tuesday.
- The “Queer Eye” hairstylist also discussed some previously unknown aspects of his life, including surviving sexual assault at a young age and struggling with addiction.
- Van Ness, 32, says he tested HIV-positive at age 25, while he was a stylist at an LA hair salon.
- “When ‘Queer Eye’ came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?,” Van Ness told the Times. “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.”
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“Queer Eye” grooming guru Jonathan Van Ness publicly came out as HIV-positive and discussed his past struggles with addiction in a wide-ranging New York Times interview.
In his upcoming memoir “Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love,” Van Ness, 32, shares painful memories he has never explored publicly before, including testing HIV-positive at age 25 when he worked at an LA hair salon.
He also reportedly wrote about surviving sexual assault at a young age when he was abused by an older boy at church and how rumors were spread about him being gay in high school in Quincy, Illinois. After undergoing therapy, Van Ness said he later connected his early trauma to self-destructive behaviors he had later in life.
As a teenager in early 90s, Van Ness writes in “Over the Top” that he spent hours on AOL chat rooms and met up with older men for sex. After his grandfather died, he gained 70 pounds in three months eating junk food. And in his freshman year at the University of Arizona in Tucson, he developed a cocaine habit.
Van Ness advertised sex for money on Gay.com to afford cocaine in college, then flunked out at age 19. He went on to get his beautician’s certificate, moved to LA, and worked at the salon when he first learned he was HIV-positive.
“When ‘Queer Eye’ came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?,” he told The New York Times. “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 also told the Times that he began using methamphetamine in his 20s before he went to rehab twice, and relapsed both times. Now, he still drinks and uses marijuana, but he told the Times he hasn’t used hard drugs in years.
Van Ness got his start as a popular personality when he was still working as a hairstylist but came up with a short-form parody series called “Gay of Thrones” with a friend that starred the then-hairstylist and guest comedians. It went on to be nominated for three Creative Arts Emmys and elevated Van Ness to red-carpet commentator gigs and other web series roles.
In 2016, he was cast on the reboot of “Queer Eye,” which has since won six Primetime Emmys, and his podcast “Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness” has taken off in popularity. With over 4.4 million Instagram followers, he has become a prominent celebrity in the LGBTQ community.