Since revealing that he’s living with HIV in an interview with the New York Times, Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness — who came out as nonbinary to Out this summer and uses he/him pronouns — has quickly become something of a spokesperson for the community, something he says he’s happy to do. “I always felt really sure and clear I wanted to do it in this way and knew this would be a jumping off point to continue my advocacy and be more of who I want to be on this platform,” Van Ness told Gay Times for the magazine’s new print issue.
Part of that advocacy means holding other public figures to task for the way they speak about HIV, as Van Ness revealed he recently did with Cardi B. Last month, the rapper went on an Instagram Live rant about an Access Hollywood story concerning her daughter, Kulture, that ended with some extremely problematic comments. Cardi was furious she had been misquoted and told the publication not to use her daughter “for clickbait.” But the rant took a turn when Cardi B told the entertainment news show to “suck [her] whole dick.” “I hope your fucking mom catch AIDS, bitch,” she added.
Addressing the pervasiveness of “cancel culture” on the internet, Van Ness said that following Cardi’s comments, he slid into her DMs to call her in rather than calling her out.
“I literally sent her the longest DM, I was like, ‘I’m always going to really like you and I know you’ve got a lot going on,’” he said. “‘It really sucks when people say untrue and awful things about you, and I’ve totally had the same thing happen but to a much lesser degree. With your platform, it was so troublesome and problematic for you to say that and it’s so hurtful, and I really hope you apologize and do some work around that. I love you.’”
Van Ness acknowledged that the rapper is “such a hard worker” who “represents so much for so many people and has so many inspiring parts to her story.” He continued, “Like, she had a bad moment and got heated, but I do think that occasion was really hurtful and bad, but should I… like, I don’t know, it’s tough.”
The grooming guru added that when he has “that itch of cancelling someone,” he tries to take into account the context of all the work they do rather than judge them on one moment. Cardi clearly isn’t going anywhere, so teaching her how harmful her comments were might be the best way to keep her from getting canceled canceled. Until then, we’ll keep waiting for an apology.
Van Ness’ book Over the Top and the new season of Queer Eye are both out now.