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Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness opens up about drug addiction, HIV diagnosis

Photo: Jeff Kravitz (Getty Images)

Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness gave an interview to The New York Times today, discussing details from his upcoming memoir, Over The Top. It’s bracingly candid stuff, as Van Ness digs deep into aspects of his past that offer a contrast to the bubbly version of himself he plays on the critically acclaimed Netflix series, including the ways he’s dealt with sexual abuse, drug addiction, and the day he learned that he was HIV positive. (Of the latter: “That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes in the soon-to-be-published book.)

Among other topics, Van Ness opens up in the interview about being sexually abused as a young child by an older boy; later, he recounts the ways his college years were consumed by drug and sex addictions. And while he now describes himself as “an out-and-proud member of the beautiful H.I.V.-positive community,” he also talks about hesitating to reveal his status to the wider world. “When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status? 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.’” 

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Very little of this is the sort of material that plays on the typically relentlessly upbeat Queer Eye, which is something Van Ness acknowledges in the interview: “These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup. That doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid, but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”

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