One of the fab five of Queer Eye, hair guru Jonathan Van Ness, reveals his hidden dark past in his new memoir, "Over the Top." The reality TV personality reveals his past drug addiction and being a sexual abuse survivor.
Last year, Netflix debuted Queer Eye, a reboot of Bravo's Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, where the Fab Five - including Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Bobby Berk - help people reinvent themselves - overhauling everything from their wardrobe to their apartment to their personal grooming habits. Van Ness' specialty is hair, skin, and personal hygiene; Out of the five, Van Ness is hands down the most recognizable, and commonly referred to as "gay Jesus," with his long flowing brown hair and bushy mustache. He hasn't always been the gown and heel wearing personification of confidence he is today, in his memoir "Over the Top" he's revealed his dark past and the man he used to be before he became a LGBTA icon.
He's far from - as he puts it in his memoir - "the effervescent, gregarious majestic center-part-blow-dry cotton-candy figure-skating queen" that he portrays on Queer Eye. Van Ness opened up to the New York Times about his memoir where he reveals about his dark past. After coming out that he found out that he was HIV positive when he was only 25 years old, he then opened up about his trauma from the past. One particularly painful memory that he explained in detail in his book, about a time when he was a child and he was abused by an older boy from church while playing pretend. He spoke of the molestation, saying, "For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma." Van Ness' self-esteem was at an all-time low when he was an early-teen - that he believed was a byproduct of his childhood sexual trauma - he started spending hours in AOL chat rooms where he would connect with older gay men for sex.
Van Ness explained that he then began binge eating to fill the emptiness. The food addiction then turned to drug addiction. He recounts spending the $200 dollars he was given by his mother every month on cocaine. His recklessness with money led to him advertising himself for sex online in order to feed his addiction. After dropping out of college, he was introduced to a couple on Grindr that offered him methamphetamine when he was in his early 20's. He quickly became addicted and went to rehab twice and relapsed both times. He says that he cleaned up his act and - although he admits to drinking alcohol and smoke marijuana - he hasn't touched hard drugs in years. Van Ness encourages fans through his own personal makeover, saying, "I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed."
It's hard for fans to comprehend that the bubbly "yaaas queen" TV personality that viewers know Van Ness to be today is such a far cry from what he was when he was younger. The pain and trauma that the Queer Eye personality has been through is heavy, but the fact that he doesn't let his past and his HIV status define him is what's most powerful. Van Ness is destigmatizing the LGBTA community and letting fans know that whatever it is that they're going through - it gets better.