I’m going to be frank here. JVN is my least favorite Queer Eye guy. He’s just the one I connect with the least. Maybe because he feels threatening to me as someone who likes to be the loudest and proudest, maybe I’m intimidated by his hair, maybe I just think the entire grooming process gets a bit too overdone on the show. Whatever. Anyway, I love Queer Eye as a whole, and I read the memoirs by Tan and Karamo, so I was intending to read this one anyway. And then I read an excellent interview about JVN opening up about struggling to be ‘on’ all the time and being forthcoming about his HIV diagnosis, so I bumped the book higher up my list.
I can’t say at the end of this book JVN is suddenly my favorite, but I have a whole new perspective on him. Like Karamo did in his book, JVN’s memoir is part tragic back story, part uplifting come-up. He faced sexual abuse as a child, drug addiction, two stints in rehab, bad behavior with men, bullying, body issues, etc and while he’s come out on top of it all, he’s still very honest about how he struggles, how he copes, and what’s he’s learned. I loved his reflection on his mom and how he didn’t appreciate her enough but also how it wasn’t always what he needed a the time. I also weirdly loved how he gave every background character a random Russian name–very interesting. I do think, like Tan’s book, JVN glosses over some of the rise-to-fame stuff that I’m most interested in, but that’s fine. How do you REALLY go from broke hairdresser to hosting a podcast? You just…got an agent? Ok…same. But anyway, overall, the book was really heartfelt and very very Jonathan, and I hope he’ll do a lot of good by opening up about his past and his diagnosis.