Jonathan Van Ness opened up recently about his past struggle with addiction, being a sexual abuse survivor and being a part of the “beautiful HIV-positive community.”
in a profile published Saturday in The New York Times, The “Queer Eye” co-star said that he had been mentally preparing for the Sept. 24 release of his memoir, “Over the Top”: “I’ve had nightmares every night for the past three months because I’m scared to be this vulnerable with people.”
Regarding his positive HIV status, the 32-year-old said he was initially unsure about whether to publicly discuss it in the wake of the success of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” the rebooted makeover series starring the “Fab Five” that premiered in February 2018.
“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,’” he said, adding: “I do feel the need to talk about this.”
Van Ness told the Times he considered it important to join the public voices who are working to combat common misconceptions and stigmas about living with HIV.
Elsewhere in his interview, Van Ness shared that he was abused when he was much younger by an older boy at his church. “For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma,” he said.
He also talked about his journey growing up in Quincy, Illinois, becoming his high school’s first male cheerleader and dealing with harassment, rumors and humiliation in school.
“I was too fat, too femme, too loud and too unlovable,” he said.
Van Ness also reflected on his past addiction to drugs and advertising sex for money when he encountered financial troubles in the years following high school. Now a famed hairstylist, Van Ness described fainting in a salon while with a client at age 25 as somewhat of a turning point.
Van Ness, who earned three Emmy nominations for his 2013 parody series, “Gay of Thrones,” said in an Instagram post that sharing his story is the “most important opportunity” he’s had.
“I’m relieved I can speak fully about the things that shape my experience in life,” he wrote. His memoir, he said, “speaks to some extremely difficult times but it’s also filled with my humor, joy and voice & I can’t wait to share it with you fully.”
Read the entire Times profile here.