It seems that Pride Month has rolled around faster than we can wave our flags at. But away from the marches and the rainbow-themed beauty buys which are donating to worthy LGBTQ+ causes, Jonathan Van Ness believes that Pride celebrations are on unchartered territory this year.
“I think I can’t sugarcoat it, this Pride feels very different,” the “Queer Eye” star tells POPSUGAR. For a start, the Illinois-raised hairstylist finds themselves in London, of all places, and is enjoying all things British; baked beans (which are “the most gorgeous little breakfast treat,” says the JVN Hair founder), sticky toffee pudding, and the stifling heatwave.
“I really feel Prideful being in my garden, hanging out with my cats, and blowing up some people on GTA.”
But even flying almost 5,000 miles from their home in Texas, USA, onto the cobblestone streets of the UK means they can’t escape the reality that people in the community are currently facing. “It’s interesting because I think being someone who aligns myself with more progressive values and the left, I want to make sure that I feel like Pride is every day of every month, all year around,” they explain. “But it’s been weird that Pride has been co-opted by the right and now we’ve just cancelled Pride. It feels so intense.”
Of course, Van Ness is referring to the way that right-wing activists have been targeting LGBTQ+ people and boycotting businesses that support and celebrate Pride Month, as well as the Anti-Trans and “Don’t Say Gay” legislation which has been rolled out in the US. “It feels very coordinated and in alignment with the legislation on queer people, so it does feel really different,” they add. “And Roe v. Wade and the end of national access to abortion and reproductive healthcare in the United States is kind of the same thing that [the government] did with a lot of really problematic aspects of American history. It feels really concerning.”
And while their celebrations might be “different” this year, they’re learning to overcome the challenges in the best way that they know how: by unleashing their frustration on “Grand Theft Auto” (GTA).
Those who have been in the audience of Van Ness’s comedy shows will be familiar with their set on the action and adventure video game, with the hair expert telling POPSUGAR: “On one part, we can totally celebrate and give acknowledgement to our ancestors that have worked so hard to get us here and have these opportunities.” They continue: “I also think at 36, celebrating Pride for me looks a little different. I really feel Prideful, for me, being in my garden, hanging out with my cats, and blowing up some people on GTA. Just being at home and being in a safe space, GTA has also been a thorough source of healing for me.”
We can’t discuss Van Ness’s journey without paying our dues to the reality show reboot of “Queer Eye”. Van Ness, alongside the remainder of the “Fab Five”, Karamo Brown, Tan France – who recently welcomed his second baby –, Antoni Porowski, and Bobby Berk, who serve those in need with a heartfelt makeover, and a serious dose of feel-good vibes.
Amid each of the member’s personal projects, including Van Ness’s latest launch of their Embody Volumizing Foam at JVN Hair, the gang have come together to see season 7 of the Netflix through.
“It was hard, and I think it’s gotten harder every season because there’s more things that like we’re all balancing, because Queer Eye obviously comes first when we’re shooting. Queer Eye just has to come first,” says Van Ness. “I love that part, and I also love getting to see the boys, and we’ve all just grown up together on this show and through this experience. But it’s a lot to balance.”
One thing is for sure, if there’s anyone who can manage being the backbone of both comedic relief and activism during a time when LGBTQ+ rights are in jeopardy, and having perfect hair, it’s Jonathan Van Ness.