Queer Eye: Jonathan Van Ness Discusses his Memoir, Over the Top

Jonathan Van Ness, the Queer Eye star, discusses his HIV-positive diagnosis, abuse as a child, and more in his memoir Over the Top, which debuts September 24.

Van Ness, who’s 32, spoke to The New York Times ahead of the memoir’s release, centering on his health and drug addiction.  “I’ve had nightmares every night for the past three months because I’m scared to be this vulnerable with people,” he shared.

Van Ness details in the book that he learned he was HIV positive at age 25 after fainting and later going to Planned Parenthood for flulike symptoms. “That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes in his book.

Van Ness explains why he is now choosing to reveal his diagnosis. “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 LGBT community thrive around me.'”

Admitting that “these are all difficult subjects” to discuss on the Netflix series, which helps the lives of others through makeovers and home renovations, Van Ness noted “that doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid.”

Another revelation in the memoir is that Van Ness was sexually abused by an older boy when he was a child.  “For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma,” Van Ness told The Times, adding that the abuse “planted the seed for other self-destructive behaviors.”

Van Ness reveals that he had met up with older men when he was a teenager, spent his money on drugs while in college, and advertised  sex for money on Gay.com. After going to rehab twice, Van Ness is now sober and has not used hard drugs in years.

His memoir’s goal is for people “to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”