Billy Porter Applauds Jonathan Van Ness for Revealing HIV Status

"We need to take the stigma away from it," the "Pose" star told "People."

On Queer Eye and on social media, Jonathan Van Ness is an open book, extremely outgoing, and willing to tell you everything. Well, almost everything, until now.

The Emmy winner’s first memoir, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, hits store shelves this week, and in it, he reveals bombshells about a not-so-“shamazing” past. JVN covers it all, from being sexually abused as a boy, to his struggles with drug and sex addiction—and being diagnosed with HIV.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest

“It’s hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven’t shared publicly,” he said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “These are issues that need to be talked about. For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma.”

Speaking to The Times, Van Ness also detailed his addiction to sex and drugs, and how when he was in his early 20s he met a couple on Grindr who introduced him to smoking meth. He shared how he eventually went to rehab twice, and relapsed both times. After fainting in a salon when he was 25, he went to Planned Parenthood, where he tested positive for HIV.

“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes in his memoir.

“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 humanize and normalize a lot of the things I talk about,” he told The Guardian.

Since Van Ness revealed his HIV status, celebrities and fans like Brené Brown have posted their support on social media, applauding his bravery.

At this past weekend’s Primetime Emmys, Emmy winner Billy Porter—whose Pose character, Pray Tell, is HIV-positive—commented on Van Ness opening up about his status, saying that “visibility is the point.”

David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

“We need to see what it looks like. We need to take the stigma away from it,” Porter told People. “And so it’s people like Jonathan who allow for the stigma to be taken away.”

Queer Eye returned July 19 for its fourth season on Netflix and has already been renewed for a fifth. Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!, a four-episode special, premieres November 1.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."
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