Jonathan Van Ness, best known as the grooming expert within Queer Eye’s Fab Five, has opened up about being a “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.”
When the interview, the non-binary Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness host also shared his experiences with drug addiction, sex work, and being a sexual abuse survivor. He goes on to say that when he was 25 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.
“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.”
While the news is nothing to celebrate, having another advocate is. There are millions of individuals living with HIV and while the numbers may be high and outreach is at its finest, the stigma still exists. For example, Donald Trump has made large cuts to America’s HIV funding which includes $1.35 billion in cuts to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This goes to show, while HIV may (sadly) be more accepted in today’s day and age, the battle is far from over.