The celebrity response to Jonathan Van Ness’ HIV-positive diagnosis has been nothing short of uplifting. The Queer Eye star’s famous friends and family are showering him with support and love after Ness went public about his troubled past — including his “devastating” diagnosis at the age of 25. The news, as well as the swift and uplifting response to it, comes just days before the release of Ness’ upcoming memoir, Over the Top.
Ness decided to come out with his diagnosis to The New York Times in an interview published Saturday. In the piece, he admits he was reticent to open up fully about these painful parts of his life he hasn’t yet shared publicly. However, he realizes they are “issues that need to be talked about.” That includes being diagnosed as HIV positive after fainting at a hair salon and seeking treatment for what he assumed at the time was the flu.
Taking to Instagram on Saturday, Ness addressed the Times piece as well as his memoir, writing he was “relieved” to finally be able to speak about his life experiences. “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,” Ness said.
The post’s comment feed quickly began to fill with beautiful words of encouragement for the Queer Eye favorite. Sophia Bush wrote, “Just adore you. Fully and completely. We’re all lucky to have you.” Said Derry Girls actress Nicola Coughlin, “You’re brave and brilliant.” Iconic figure skater (and Ness’ BFF) Michelle Kwan expressed gratitude, saying, “Thank you for allowing yourself to be so raw & open and showing the world that vulnerability can be a strength.”
The outpouring of support is heartening as, historically, HIV and AIDS diagnoses have been intensely stigmatized. Earlier this week, Prince Harry alluded to the slowly changing public perception surrounding these conditions by praising Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas for revealing his own HIV-positive diagnosis. The Duke credited Thomas for “saving lives and shattering stigma” by showing that such an HIV-positive diagnosis and being strong are not mutually exclusive.
Ness clearly demonstrates the same. His courage in sharing his story with the world is admirable — as is the overwhelmingly kind response to it, from celebrities and fans.