Earlier this morning, RTÉ Radio 1 broadcaster Ryan Tubridy had the opportunity to speak with Queer Eye star, Over the Top author, and Getting Curious podcaster extraordinaire Jonathan Van Ness. And if you think that we here at Lifestyle were fangirling from our desks, you would be correct.

Describing it as one of the "kindest pieces of TV" he had seen in a long time, Ryan asked Jonathan to discuss a particular episode from the latest series of Queer Eye, in which the Fab Five visited the hairdresser's hometown of Quincy, Illinois, to give his high school music director, Ms. Kathi Dooley, a makeover. 

"She has done so much - in my whole life - to keep the arts alive and accessible to as many kids as possible in public schools in the city that I come from," Jonathan told Ryan. "The arts are always the first thing, where I'm from, to get axed."

"She's just such an incredible educator and to be able to go back, at this time in my life, to that high school and be able to take everything that I've learned since I left and bring it back and show people where I'm from what can happen when you work really hard - it was just such a layered episode."

Fans of JVN will know him as a big-hearted entertainer who loves cats, yoga, and figure skating. As quick to laugh as he is to cry, the hair-dresser turned stand-up spends much of his time on Instagram, talking to his fans about everything from body positivity and self-care to politics and advocacy.

"I think that practicing and doing things that give you joy, no matter what anyone else thinks of it is kind of a lesson that I've learned over and over and over again in my life," he told Ryan.

However, in his new book Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, the 32-year-old revealed that behind his light-hearted sense of humour and Kelly Clarkson quotes, he has been working through a history of sexual abuse*, addiction issues**, and an HIV-positive diagnosis***.

"Those moments and that experience of surviving sexual abuse, and everything that the experience brought along with it, really has shaped and formed so much of my life. That's really what I talk about in the book."

"There were so many relationships that I didn't know how to navigate," he continued. "Whether it was with food or with people or myself. I think that it did make the first 17 years of my life massively difficult and I was desperately trying to figure out how to connect with people around me and I was desperately trying to figure out how to find acceptance."

"I think, in the large part, that's where so much of my happiness and my spirit has come from because, really, these last 16/17 years of my life, where I've been able to find myself and chase my passions down and achieve so many of my dreams - the last year and a half has been more obvious, but there have been so many things that I've come up against and have realised my strength through."

As the interview wound down, Ryan asked Jonathan to discuss his HIV-positive diagnosis which, in his book, the author referred to as "the monster under the bed" that finally caught up with him.

"It was really scary finding out that I had it and navigating the ways that you have to attain your care with your doctor and your medication. There are so many forms to fill out and there are so many hoops to jump through and there is so much red tape - it's so confusing."

"People with HIV can live long, gorgeous lives," he continued. "And they can achieve whatever they want to achieve. They can be parents, they can do whatever they want - as long as they have access to their doctor and their medication."

Listen back to Ryan's full interview Jonathan Van Ness on RTÉ Radio 1 above.

  • *If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact One in Four or The Cari Foundation.
  • **If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can visit Aiseire.
  • ***For more information, visit HIV Ireland.