In a moving interview with the New York Times published over the weekend, Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness opens up about being HIV-positive.
“When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?’,” the 32-year-old non-binary reality TV star says.
But Trump rolling back LGBTQ rights and stripping away funding for HIV/AIDS research made him feel the need to speak out.
“I’ve had nightmares every night for the past three months because I’m scared to be this vulnerable with people,” he says. “There are issues that need to be talked about.”
Throughout his 20s, Van Ness struggled with addiction to sex and drugs. He went to rehab twice and relapsed both times. Then, when he was 25, he fainted at work.
The next day, he went to Planned Parenthood to be examined for flu-like symptoms. And that’s when he tested positive for HIV.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” Van Ness writes in his new memoir, which he hopes will help dispel some of the misconceptions people have about HIV.
Since “coming out” as poz, Van Ness has received an outpouring of love and support from people on Twitter, proving HIV stigma may (finally!) be on the outs…
I knew I loved @jvn but I didn’t realize I had even more of a reason to love him. It’s so important for EVERYONE (queer/str8) to recognize that being poz is chill AF. HIV stigma is trash. Throw your ideas and phobias away! HIV=
— andee eskobar (@theandyescobar) September 22, 2019
— Cecil Baldwin (@CecilBaldwinIII) September 22, 2019
We should all commend Jonathan Van Ness for his bravery and honesty in revealing he is HIV positive. He’s helping to erase stigma and shows what beautiful and thriving lives people with HIV can lead. You are amazing @jvn. https://t.co/ZX8XZ0mtb8
— Ryan Schocket (@RyanSchocket) September 21, 2019
— Brené Brown (@BreneBrown) September 21, 2019
A friend who is a HS counselor told me a heartbreaking story about a kid getting diagnosed with HIV last week. I can’t fucking imagine how that kid feels today upon learning that one of the thrivingest queers on the planet is positive too. @jvn, you just changed the universe.
— Amelia Bonow (@ameliabonow) September 21, 2019
Going public with this info is fucking exhausting and opens you up to so much toxicity in the world, but the work needs to be done so that the stigma ends. https://t.co/Er7FtcdY6Q
— 10X Impostor Syndrome (@furioursus) September 21, 2019
We ended up having a huge conversation with our boys last night about the AIDS crisis of the late 80s – mid 90s, how it devastated communities, where that left us, the state of play now. We talked for over an hour. That's because of @jvn – my kids love him. Brave and good man.
— Sali Hughes (@salihughes) September 23, 2019
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) September 21, 2019
Big admiration to Jonathan Van Ness @jvn today for disclosing his HIV status and history with addiction. Every time someone opens these tough conversations, stigma is eroded, and people's lives are made safer and easier, and we all benefit.
— Nicole Stamp (@nicolestamp) September 23, 2019
When it comes to bigots (esp re the recent JVN HIV revelation) yes, they exist together as a group, but it’s a group that’s bonded by hatred.
Our community (the LGBTQ+ and it’s allies) and the community of people living with HIV are bonded by love.
That’s really unbeatable.
— John Whaite (@John_Whaite) September 22, 2019
Van Ness now describes himself as an “out and loud member of the beautiful HIV-positive community.”
“These are all difficult subjects to talk about,” Van Ness says, “but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”