Known for his bubbly and energetic personality on Queer Eye, the 32-year-old reality star is getting candid about his struggle with addiction, being a survivor of sexual assault and sharing with the world for the first time that he is HIV positive.
"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 tells The New York Times in an article published ahead of the release of his memoir, Over the Top. "There are issues that need to be talked about."
In his tell-all book, Van Ness recalls at the age of 25 fainting while working at a salon. He went to Planned Parenthood to get checked and tested positive for HIV.
"That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes in his memoir, according to the NYT. With his book, Van Ness tells the newspaper that he wants to bring attention to the misperceptions about being HIV positive, and describes himself as "an out-and-proud member of the beautiful HIV.-positive community."
"When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, 'Do I want to talk about my status?' And then I was like, 'The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatization of the L.G.B.T. community thrive around me,'" he says before adding, "I do feel the need to talk about this."
There's a lot more that unfolds in Van Ness' memoir, including stories of being in his teens, spending hours on AOL chat rooms and meeting up with older men for sex. He also goes into detail about his past sex and drug addictions, per the publication.
In his early 20s, the hairdresser used methamphetamine and went to rehab twice, and when money was short he "advertised sex for money on Gay.com," according to the Times. Now that he's on a healthier path and hasn't done hard drugs in years, Van Ness is hoping that his story helps others who might be going through hard times.
"These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup," Van Ness explains. "That doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid, but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed."