Jonathan Van Ness

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Jonathan Van Ness
Van Ness in April 2018
Jonathan McDonald Van Ness

(1987-03-28) March 28, 1987 (age 36)
Alma materAveda Institute
  • TV personality
  • podcast host
  • hairdresser
  • author
  • comedian
Years active2013–present
TelevisionQueer Eye
Political partyDemocratic
Mark Peacock
(m. 2020)

Jonathan McDonald Van Ness (born March 28, 1987),[1] also commonly referred to by his initials J.V.N, is an American hairstylist, podcast host and television personality. He is best known as the grooming expert on the Netflix series Queer Eye,[2] for his work on the web series parody Gay of Thrones, and for hosting the Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness podcast.

Early life[edit]

Jonathan Van Ness was born March 28, 1987, to parents Mary Winters and Jonathan Lyle Van Ness, and raised in Quincy, Illinois.[1][3] He said he comes "from a family of journalists", being the sixth generation of his family-owned newspaper.[4] This refers to broadcast and newspaper conglomerate Quincy Media and the company's local flagship newspaper, the Herald-Whig; Van Ness's mother is the vice president of Quincy Media, and he is a descendant of the Oakley family, which has controlled the company since the 1890s.[5]

When Van Ness was younger, he was sexually abused by an older boy at church, which laid the foundation for self-destructive behaviors.[6] In his early teens, he used online chat to socialize with, and sometimes meet, older men for sex.[6]

Openly gay throughout his life,[7] Van Ness experienced bullying for his femininity and natural flamboyance. He "endured years of judgment, ridicule, and trauma." Of the time, Van Ness said, "Growing up I definitely put on every nail polish, every heel, every scarf – I definitely had my mom's knockoff Hermès scarves in my hair and around my waist – those were my skirts, and I loved it. ... But when I was really young, I had really femme-shamey, gender-shamey [reactions] when I would dress like that. When I would play with those things, I knew it needed to be ... behind closed doors."[8] Although always comfortable in his gender expression and sexuality, he says it took time to navigate other people's reactions.[8] In response to the bullying, he used humor as a coping mechanism and relied on a small group of close friends for support.[9] Years later, in the late 2010s, he realized he was gender non-conforming and started identifying as non-binary.[8][10]

Van Ness was the first male cheerleader at Quincy Senior High School and continued cheerleading in college at the University of Arizona, where he majored in political science.[7][11] One month in his initial semester at college, he used up his monthly allowance on cocaine and, too embarrassed to ask his parents for funds, turned to sex work.[6] His addictions to sex and drugs increased to also include methamphetamine.[6] His grades fell, and he lost his cheerleading scholarship; he dropped out after one semester to pursue hairstyling.[9][12]

Van Ness trained at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis.[13] After graduating,[14] he worked in Arizona for five years,[15] before moving to Los Angeles in 2009.[7]

Van Ness's 9th Great-Grandmother, Patience Bacon, was one of the founders of Northhampton, Massachusetts, and is noted for being the first recorded female surgeon in America.[16]


In Los Angeles, Van Ness found a job as a personal assistant at Sally Hershberger Salon.[7][14] One day in 2012, at age 25, he fainted in the salon while doing highlights for a client's hair.[6] Later at a clinic, he found out he was HIV-positive.[5] He used the revelation to get clean from drug use and publicly shared his story, saying, "I want people to realize you're never too broken to be fixed."[6] He worked at MoJoHair and Stile Salon, both in Los Angeles, which he co-founded with Monique Northrop of Arte Salon in New York City.[14]


In 2013, while dressing the hair of friend Erin Gibson, who worked for the comedy syndicate Funny or Die,[7] Gibson asked Van Ness to perform his recap of a Game of Thrones episode for Funny or Die, which became the Gay of Thrones web series.[17] In 2018, Van Ness was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series for the series.[18][19]

Since 2015, Van Ness has hosted the weekly podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.[20] His podcast took off upon the airing of the first Queer Eye episode.[21]

Beginning in 2018, Van Ness has starred as the grooming expert on the Netflix revival of Queer Eye.[22]

Before his appearance on Netflix's Queer Eye, Jonathon Van Ness experienced a dark past that would affect him for many years.[23] Throughout these dark times he found hairstyling to be a positive influence for him and eventually dropped out of college to pursue it. As writer Matthew Wilkinson wrote, “College clearly wasn’t for him and he left. However, it wasn’t something he just did on a whim, as he actually quit to pursue hairstyling, clearly deciding that was his calling.”[24] He would soon be chosen by Netflix to star on Queer Eye and become a, “...fab five and found himself suddenly beloved by millions of new fans.”[25] On the show, Jonathan acts as the hairstylist and grooming expert. “Jonathan Van Ness stepped into the spotlight in 2018 as a walking, talking bundle of energy, optimism and positivity as the grooming expert on Queer Eye…”[26] However, in the episode “Without Further Ado” during Queer Eye season four aired in 2019, Van Ness returned to his hometown and although many folks showered him and the show with love, many did not.[27]  An accepting member of the community, Kathi Dooley, was the star of the episode that season and as Van Ness states, “had saved his life, and the lives of so many other students, with her support and acceptance, and that he wished she would nurture herself the way she had always done with others.’’[27]


Van Ness's memoir, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love,[28] was published in October 2019. His memoir discusses his past and how it helped sculpt his future.

In 2020, Van Ness released a picture book titled Peanut Goes for the Gold, which tells the story of a nonbinary guinea pig named Peanut and their adventures as a rhythmic gymnastics prodigy. Peanut is inspired by Van Ness's own childhood pet.[29]

In 2022 Van Ness released a collection of essays in a book titled Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Van Ness identifies as non-binary.[10][31] Although he has stated a preference for using the pronouns "he/him", he has also used "she/her" and "they/them" interchangeably.[32][33] He explained his gender in an interview with Out, saying, "[S]ome days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman. I don't really — I think my energies are really all over the place. Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it."[10]

Van Ness lives and works in Austin, Texas and New York City. He has psoriasis, a chronic skin condition, and advises clients on skin care.[34] In 2019, he came out as HIV positive.[35]

Pelosi and Van Ness at the Speaker's Balcony

On April 4, 2019, Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Tan France, and Antoni Porowski visited Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to discuss the Equality Act, a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[36] On September 25, Van Ness announced his endorsement of Elizabeth Warren for president in 2020 based upon healthcare being a human right.[37]

On June 23, 2020, Van Ness and Queer Eye costar Bobby Berk praised recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that ruled that LGBT employment discrimination was a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[38] Van Ness described the ruling as "a great step in the right direction."[38] However, both of them still urged the United States Congress to pass the proposed Equality Act.[38]

In December 2020, Van Ness revealed that he had married his partner, Mark Peacock, earlier that year.[39]


  • Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love (2019)
  • Peanut goes for the Gold (2020)
  • Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life (2022)


Television and web[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013–2019 Gay of Thrones Jonathan Series regular, 45 episodes
2014 I Love the 2000s Himself Series regular, 10 episodes
2018–present Queer Eye Himself Series regular, 58 episodes
2018 Nailed It! Himself Contestant, Episode: "3, 2, 1... Ya Not Done!!"
2019 Big Mouth Himself (voice) Episode: "Disclosure the Movie: The Musical!"
2019 Big City Greens Confident Stylist (voice) Episode: "Cricket's Kapowie"[40]
2020 Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine Arianne Zucker Television special
2020 Spinning Out Himself Episode 3, Cameo[41]
2021 M.O.D.O.K. Himself (voice) Episode: "This Man... This Makeover!"
2021 I Heart Arlo Furlecia Main voice role[42]
2022 Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness Himself 6 Episodes


Year Title Role Notes
2020 Miss Americana Himself Directed by Lana Wilson
2021 Arlo the Alligator Boy Furlecia Main voice role; directed by Ryan Crego

Music videos[edit]

Year Song Artist(s)
2018 "This Is Me (The Reimagined Remix)" Keala Settle, Kesha, & Missy Elliott
2019 "You Need to Calm Down" Taylor Swift
2020 "Malibu" (At Home Edition) Kim Petras

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Jonathan Van Ness on Instagram". Instagram. March 27, 2018. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved March 29, 2018. I turn 31 tomorrow, what a year it's been. The reoccurring theme I've been shown is to advocate for yourself. Even when it means you may not please everyone, or it feels inconvenient. #selflove
  2. ^ Gallagher, Caitlin (February 7, 2018). "Who Is Jonathan Van Ness From 'Queer Eye'? 'Gay of Thrones' Fans May Recognize This Hilarious Stylist". Bustle. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  3. ^ Hall, Gerrad (February 11, 2018). "Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness on the moment that made him 'super-duper uncomfortable'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  4. ^ "Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Hawgood, Alex (September 21, 2019). "Jonathan Van Ness of 'Queer Eye' Comes Out". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Van Ness' battle with abuse and addiction". The Week. October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e Dutton, Matt (March 5, 2018). "LIFE STORIES: Van Ness on whirlwind journey as one of Fab Five on Queer Eye reboot". Herald-Whig. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Guerrero, DESIRÉE (July 29, 2019). "Jonathan Van Ness Gets to the Bottom of Being Over the Top". The Advocate. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Yi, David (February 26, 2018). "The irresistible charm of 'Queer Eye's' resident sassy queen Jonathan Van Ness". Very Good Light. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Tirado, Fran (June 10, 2019). "Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness: "I'm Nonbinary"". Out. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  11. ^ 92nd Street Y (June 21, 2018), Netflix's Queer Eye in Conversation, retrieved June 23, 2018 – via YouTube
  12. ^ "Jonathan Van Ness's First Financial Principle: "I'm a girl who has to stop herself from shopping"". Wealthsimple. June 15, 2018. Archived from the original on June 24, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  13. ^ Thomas, Chris (December 8, 2017). "Meet the Five Fab Men of Netflix's Queer Eye Reboot". Out. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c "Jonathan Van Ness | Gay of Thrones Star | Queer Eye Netflix". Jonathan Van Ness. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  15. ^ "You're A Big Deal: Jonathan Van Ness, LA Hair Stylist". WBD. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Maternal Family Tree of Jonathan van Ness". June 27, 2023.
  17. ^ Diaz, Eric (July 14, 2014). "A Chat with Jonathan Van Ness". Nerdist. Archived from the original on July 19, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Awards & Nominations: Gay Of Thrones". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Ben-Moche, Erin (July 13, 2018). "Jonathan Van Ness is nominated for Gay of Thrones and Queer Eye—and he 'can't even'". Los Angeles Times.
  20. ^ "Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness". Getting Curious Podcast. Archived from the original on May 17, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  21. ^ Quah, Nicholas (August 3, 2018). "The Best Podcasts of 2018 (So Far)". Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  22. ^ "Netflix Press Release". Netflix. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  23. ^ "Jonathan Van Ness reveals he's HIV-positive, opens up about past sexual abuse in memoir". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  24. ^ "Queer Eye: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Jonathan Van Ness". ScreenRant. November 29, 2019. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  25. ^ Eakin, Marah. "What 'Getting Curious' Taught Jonathan Van Ness About … Everything". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  26. ^ Sanders, Sam; Sastry, Anjuli; McCall, Alexander; Hochman, Jordana (August 24, 2021). "Jonathan Van Ness On 'Queer Eye', Cats, And Overcoming Trauma". NPR. Archived from the original on August 24, 2021. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  27. ^ a b Abbott, Kate (December 30, 2019). "'It was very hurtful' – what really happens when Queer Eye comes to town?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  28. ^ Ness, Jonathan (2019). Over the Top: A raw Journey to Self-Love. Harper One. ISBN 978-0-06-290637-3.
  29. ^ "Peanut Goes for the Gold". HarperCollins. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  30. ^ "'Queer Eye' star Jonathan van Ness gets even more 'curious' in new book 'Love That Story'". USA Today.
  31. ^ Van Ness, Jonathan (June 25, 2019). "What's Your Experience with the Binary? with Alok". Earwolf Podcast Archive. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  32. ^ December 1, Julie Mazziotta (December 1, 2020). "Jonathan Van Ness Says 'There Are Not Enough Resources' for HIV Positive and Disenfranchised People". Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  33. ^ "'Queer Eye' Star Jonathan Van Ness Says He Identifies As Gender Nonbinary". HuffPost. June 11, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  34. ^ Fasanella, Kahleigh (March 9, 2018). "Queer Eye Star Jonathan Van Ness Opens Up About His Psoriasis on Instagram". Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  35. ^ Hicklin, Aaron (September 22, 2019). "Jonathan Van Ness on being HIV positive: 'It gave me a reason to really fight'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  36. ^ "The 'Queer Eye' guys just met with Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill". Roll Call. April 4, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  37. ^ Sullivan, Kate (September 25, 2019). "'Queer Eye' star Jonathan Van Ness endorses Elizabeth Warren for president". CNN. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  38. ^ a b c Martin, Annie (June 24, 2020). "'Queer Eye' stars say Supreme Court LGBTQ ruling is 'step in right direction'". United Press International. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  39. ^ Marianne Garvey (January 2021). "'Queer Eye' star Jonathan Van Ness reveals he got married". CNN. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  40. ^ Lambe, Stacey (November 14, 2019). "Jonathan Van Ness Gets Animated on 'Big City Greens' (Clip)". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  41. ^ "Spinning Out Has a Hilarious Queer Eye Cameo". Screen Rant. January 21, 2020.
  42. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (November 12, 2020). "Arlo the Alligator Boy' Makes Animated Debut in Netflix Movie & Series". Animation Magazine.
  43. ^ "Nominations for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series – 2019". Emmys.
  44. ^ a b c "Nominations for Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Competition Program". Emmys.
  45. ^ "Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards!". Goodreads. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  46. ^ "2019 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards: Full List of Winners". iHeartRadio. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  47. ^ "Critics' Choice Real TV Awards | Critics Choice Awards". Archived from the original on April 14, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2020.

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