Days before the release of his new memoir, Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness opened up to the New York Times about a particularly difficult passage he outlines for his readers: a previous addiction to drugs and sex, which persisted until his mid-20s. “For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma,” Van Ness explained. “I was too fat, too femme, too loud, and too unlovable.”
Beginning in his early teens, the Queer Eye star said he would regularly solicit sex from older men in AOL chat rooms. When he moved to Arizona to attend college, he developed a cocaine addiction, and would “advertise sex for money” on a personnels website to help pay for more drugs. His sex and drug problem was at its worst, Van Ness added, when he moved to Los Angeles for a career in hairstyling, where he regularly dabbled in methamphetamine, and despite two trips to rehab, couldn’t kick the habit. It was only when he was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 25 that he began to “clean up” his life. “That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” Van Ness said. He’s now been clean of hard drugs for years, but still enjoys alcoholic beverages.