Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness has bared it all in an interview about his upcoming memoir, revealing childhood traumas, battling drug addiction, and being diagnosed with HIV.
Jonathan Van Ness has been mentally preparing himself all summer for the release of his memoir titled Over the Top, which comes out on September 24th. When speaking about the anticipation, Van Ness admits that he’s “had nightmares every night for the past three months” because he’s “scared to be this vulnerable with people.”
But even with his fear of vulnerability, Van Ness delves into some deeply personal issues in his past in his book that is appropriately subtitled, “A Raw Journey to Self-Love.”
The 32-year-old reality star opened up in a recent interview with The New York Times about his memoir, which details his journey of growing up in Illinois, heading to college in Arizona, and working as a hairstylist in Los Angeles, all before getting cast on Netflix’s reboot of the show Queer Eye.
Van Ness revealed a particularly painful memory: when he was younger, he was sexually abused by an older boy from church, and he says that the incident “planted the seed for other self-destructive behaviors,” acknowledging that survivors of assault at a young age have “a lot of compounded trauma.”
After that, he reveals that he was a victim of bullying in school (“I was too fat, too femme, too loud and too unlovable.”), and sought comfort in sordid encounters with older men he found in chat rooms. He flunked out of college and had two stints with inpatient rehab centers before receiving the devastating news that would help push him to make some changes.
Van Ness was 25 when he fainted from flu-like symptoms in a salon while doing a client’s hair. The next day, he tested positive for HIV.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be.”
These days, he has turned his life around and hasn’t touched hard drugs in years. He considers himself a “member of the beautiful HIV positive community.”
The Queer Eye star also said why he chose to disclose his status, even with his fears of vulnerability, telling the Times, “The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatization of the LGBT community thrive around me.”
Van Ness added, “I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”