Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness has opened up about living with HIV in his emotive new memoir, Over the Top.
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The memoir, which charts his journey from childhood to Queer Eye, sees Van Ness discussing a series of traumatic events from his younger years which include his abuse at the hands of an older boy at school, his battles with both drug and sex addiction and his difficulty in dealing with his stepfather’s death following a battle with cancer.
Soon after the latter, Van Ness received his HIV diagnosis. “Everything that happened to me that summer will always be painful to think about,” Van Ness told The Guardian. “It was like saying goodbye to so much of what I wanted.”
Speaking about receiving the news, he added: “It occurred to me: what if everything I’ve ever been through was preparing me for this moment – to be strong enough to share this, and to share it on my own terms.
“Part of that for me is to process what’s happened, but the bigger part is that I wanted to do something to move the conversation forward in a meaningful way around HIV/Aids, and what it is to live with HIV, and to humanise and normalise a lot of the things I talk about.”
“I absolutely do not think I’d have been as socially aware or conscious or want to make as much of a difference,” without the diagnosis, he adds. “It gave me a reason to really fight.”
Queer Eye returned to screens earlier this year with the Fab Five – aka Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown and Tan France – returning for season four on July 19.
Among the episodes from the new season, one sees Van Ness’ old orchestra teacher Kathi Dooley receiving a makeover, an episode for which they return to the star’s high school.
Earlier this year, the Queer Eye gang visited Japan for four special episodes. Speaking about the spin-off, the presenters said they wanted to “work with local tastemakers to make-better a new group of heroes, while they learn and experience Japanese cuisine, fashion, design, grooming and culture firsthand.”