Jonathan Van Ness, best known as the grooming expert within Queer Eye’s Fab Five, has opened up about being an out-and-proud “member of the beautiful H.I.V.-positive community,” in his upcoming memoir Over the Top.
“When ‘Queer Eye’ came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. “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.”
In the interview, the nonbinary Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness host also shared his experiences with drug addiction, sex work, and being a sexual abuse survivor.
When Van Ness was 25 he says that he fainted in a salon while highlighting a client’s hair, the next day he went to Planned Parenthood to diagnose his ‘flu-like’ symptoms when he tested HIV-positive.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he said.
At a time when Donald Trump has made large cuts to HIV funding which includes $1.35 billion in cuts to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and $392 million in cuts to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Van Ness’s visibility can serve as an additional voice for the one million people living with HIV in the United States.
“These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup,” he told the paper. “That doesn’t mean ‘Queer Eye’ is less valid, but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”