(CBS News)- Jonathan Van Ness, a star of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” revealed in a new interview that he is HIV-positive. Speaking with the New York Times about his upcoming memoir, Van Ness also opened up surviving sexual assault and overcoming his drug addiction.
“It’s hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven’t shared publicly,” he said. “These are issues that need to be talked about.”
The “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness opens up to The New York Times about being an addict, a sexual abuse survivor and H.I.V. positive https://t.co/WdEJ6oQeGG— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 21, 2019
The 32-year-old revealed he was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 25, after fainting at his job at a hair salon. He then went to Planned Parenthood with flu-like symptoms. “That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes in his memoir, according to the Times.
Van Ness’ memoir, “Over the Top,” delves deeper into his life story, from struggling to accept himself as a kid in Illinois to eventually being cast on “Queer Eye.” He now describes himself as a proud “member of the beautiful HIV-positive community.”
Van Ness also shared his story about being sexually abused at a young age by an older boy from church and experiencing homophobic bullying at school.
“For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma,” he said.
As a teenager, Van Ness said he would meet older men online for sex. He developed binge-eating disorder after the death of his stepfather. He exchanged sex for money in college to feed his cocaine habit.
Van Ness said he flunked out of college after his freshman year, turning to beautician school instead. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and became addicted to methamphetamine, going to rehab twice.
After testing positive for HIV, Van Ness said he quit hard drugs, launched “Gay of Thrones” — which has been nominated for three Creative Arts Emmys — and was cast in the “Queer Eye” reboot in 2016.
In June, Van Ness dug deeper into his identity, describing himself as “non-binary” and “genderqueer.”
“The older I get, the more I think that I’m non-binary — I’m gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman,” he said.
With the success of “Queer Eye,” Van Ness hopes to destigmatize his addiction struggles and HIV-positive status.
“When ‘Queer Eye’ came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?” he said. “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.’ I do feel the need to talk about this.”