“You’re never too broken to be fixed.” This is Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness’s message to everyone which he shared through an exclusive interview with The New York Times ahead of his memoir’s release.
In the same interview, Van Ness talked about his life experiences, ones he personally feel he needed to talk about even if they were really difficult. His HIV status for instance because, he explained, “The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatization of the L.G.B.T. community thrive around me.”
Van Ness says he is an “out-and-proud ‘member of the beautiful H.I.V.-positive community,'” and he hopes that with his memoir, he could bring attention to “misperceptions about being H.I.V. positive.” Further, the 32-year-old reality star talked about many painful memories, like how he was “abused by an older boy from church, during what was supposed to be a make-believe play session” when he was “much younger.” He said:
<blockquote>”For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma.”</blockquote>
The result of that trauma is many years of struggles, ones that involved self-destructive behaviors like meeting up with older men for sex, getting hooked on cocaine as a college student, and he even “advertised sex for money.” After flunking out of college, Van Ness went home and took up a beautician course at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis.
Van Ness obtained his certificate allowing him to work at various salons but his “addiction to sex and drug got worse” and he even started “smoking methamphetamine.” It all came to a head when he fainted while working, prompting him to get tested. The result, he said, came back positive for HIV.
He was 25.
It was the wake-up call Van Ness needed. He turned his life around, “cleaned up his act,” and it was around this time when opportunities from the entertainment industry came knocking at his door.
Today, Van Ness is best-known for his reality television series with Netflix titled Queer Eye. He also appeared at Taylor Swift’s music video for her song “You Need to Calm Down” last June along with his costars Tan Frances, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, and Bobby Berk in Queer Eye. Read The New York Times interview with Van Ness in full here.
Van Ness’ memoir—titled Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love—is set for release this September 24.