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Queer Eye: Jonathan Van Ness opens up about HIV-positive status, addiction, and sexual assault in memoir

Johnathan Van Ness gets candid in new memoir.
Queer Eye star Johnathan Van Ness shares his HIV-positive status and struggles with addiction. Pic credit: @jvn/Instagram

Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness is opening up about being HIV-positive, his struggle with addiction, and being a sexual assault survivor. In his new memoir, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, Van Ness is letting fans see his vulnerable side.

The reality TV star shared a preview of his book with the New York Times. Van Hess dropped three shocking truth bombs in the excerpts released to the newspaper.

One revelation was that as a child, Van Ness was sexually assaulted by an older boy from his church.

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Having the opportunity to write my book and share my story with you is the most important opportunity I’ve ever had. The first article about the book came out today from the @nytimes & I’m relieved I can speak fully about the things that shape my experience in life. The book speaks to some extremely difficult times but it’s also filled with my humor, joy and voice & I can’t wait to share it with you fully. Thanks so much for your support so far, it means the world. Article link in bio 🏳️‍🌈 📸 Isak Tiner words by Alex Hawgood

A post shared by Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) on

“For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma,” he explains in the memoir.

The trauma for Van Ness resulted in years of self-destructive behaviors. It caused him to seek out older men for sex via online chat rooms as a teenager, creating his addiction to sex.

In college, the Queer Eye star used drugs as a coping mechanism. Cocaine and meth were his drugs of choice in his early 20s.

His drug addiction got so out of control that Van Ness had to advertise sex for cash to pay for his habit. Although he went to rehab twice, both times Van Ness relapsed. His drug and sex addiction contributed to him flunking out of college.

Once college was no longer an option, the reality TV star decided to go to beauty school and become a hairdresser. He still used drugs while embarking on his new career venture.

At the age of 25, Van Ness’ life was turned upside down after a trip to Planned Parenthood for what he thought was the flu. It was then he learned he was HIV-positive.

“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he admits in the book.

After his HIV diagnosis, Van Ness turned his life around. It has been years since he has done “hard drugs.” He admits, though, that occasionally he drinks alcohol and smokes pot. Today the 32-year-old is healthier and considers himself “an out and proud member of the beautiful HIV-positive community.”

It hasn’t been easy for Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness to be so candid about his HIV-positive status and addictions. However, he feels it is necessary to send a message to people that no one is ever too broken to be fixed.

“I do feel the need to talk about this. 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,” he explained to the New York Times.

There is so much more to learn about Van Ness. Fans can read all about his life journey when Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love is released on September 24.

Rachelle has been working as an entertainment writer for over a decade. She recently left television ad sales behind to focus on her dream of... read more
Rachelle Lewis

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