There has been A LOT of buzz around JVN’s new book! Of course I’ve been a huge fan of Jonathan Van Ness for a very long time, but I love how much media attention he’s been getting in the past year. Jonathan originally was known for his recap show Gay of Thrones, and then earned mainstream attention after becoming a member of Netflix’s Queer Eye‘s Fab Five. The book has made headlines this year because of the secrets that JVN opens up about in the book, and his bravery is insanely admirable.
In one of the episodes of Queer Eye, the Fab Five talk about coming out of the closet. Jonathan says something along the lines of, “Hello! The sky is blue. The grass is green.” meaning that there really was no “in the closet” for him. He was clearly and obviously flamboyant from a young age, and that left for a good amount of teasing while growing up. The story of his friend from the swim team is one that I’m sure many queer people can relate to: a friend where the lines get blurry and complicated… and then in the end.. awkward. It’s sad that there was so much shame in being gay in these small towns, because it can do a lot of damage.
I really enjoyed reading about his reflections on past relationships. Speaking in the abstract makes everything so poetic and tragically beautiful. I could feel that when JVN talked about Sergei. They clearly cared so much about each other as humans, even if their demons constantly came between them. Their story hurt my heart, but the love was clear and present the whole journey. Who gave them permission to be so hauntingly gorgeous?!
It was super exciting to see Jonathan go to Tucson for college! However, his experiences at the U of A were not entirely positive. He was clearly in a dark place at this point in his life, and he was searching for answers in some of the worst places. I appreciate his willingness to be open about his escort experience, which left him vulnerable and broken. I’m sure it was not easy for him to be honest about his behavior during this time, but I appreciated that he shared this in his writing. There are a lot of experiences within the male gay community that is swept under the rug, and JVN was able to bring some to light. During this time of darkness, he was luckily able to reach out to his family for the help he needed, and headed home to “start over”.
Recovery, self-love, and mental health are things that JVN is always promoting, and it’s clearly as a result of his life experiences. His words on recovery are inspiring, and he is always reminding everyone to love themselves for where they are at. He says, “One thing I have come to notice in my life is that recovery for me has not been linear. It’s more two steps forward, three back, five forward, two back, so I’m always improving but there are setbacks within the improvement.”
I love Jonathan and every single itty bitty baby gorgeous thing he ever does, and I of course loved this book. But truthfully, I think he could have REALLY dove into his dark places and gone even deeper. It definitely would take being EXTREMELY vulnerable to do this, as Jonathan as already revealed so so much in this book. Home girl has been through some shit! I just feel like there was so many stories and deep details that we didn’t get to hear, as he barely skimmed the surface of what he’s been through. He explains the the summary of the dark places, but I was so interested in his life of tricks and compulsivity, and so I definitely wanted a little more. Still, I totally know how hard that would be for JVN, who is very much connected to people worldwide with Queer Eye and his social media presence. I still absolutely applaud him for how much he did open up and reveal in the pages.
I love the way Jonathan combats the stigmas around HIV. This is such a significant conversation! Learning about being “undetectable” is so incredibly important to educate people on the virus, and even I learned a lot from his writing. I’m so glad that JVN was recognized for this conversation in the media!! This really can help so many people to not only get the help they need, but also feel comfortable to live a full life while managing their diagnosis. It’s so wonderful that modern medicine can allow those who are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS to live a long lives. In the book, Jonathan mentions how his doctor said he would “go on to die of a heart attack or cancer just like everybody else.” – which is of course a morbid joke, but just shows where HIV is in terms of a terminal diagnosis.
Below are a list of resources provided by JVN in the book. Also, if you are a member of any community that may be high risk for HIV, please ask your doctor about PrEP, or visit the CDC website or What Is PrRP? or for more information.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
The Trevor Project
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Advocates for Youth
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
Peer Health Exchange
ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
He is fierce. He is real. He is raw. He gets into it, hunny! Jonathan gets sups vuln and you need to hear all the spilled tea. Grab your little baby copy wherever the finest of books are sold and come along for the gorgeous ride! Queer Eye is of course always available on Netflix – the Japan episodes were released not too long ago, and I know they were filming in Philly this summer!! For all things JVN, you can visit jonathanvanness.com or follow him on social media @JVN.
“In general, if you can’t take me at my raw, heated moment, you don’t deserve me at my composed Emmys glam moment.” – Jonathan Van Ness, re-quoting Marilyn Monroe ♡
Thanks for reading!