The Queer Eye grooming expert talks openly during Pride Month about realising he’s gender nonconforming
We know they say you shouldn’t pick favourites, but if we have to choose a number one reality star then Johnathon Van Ness is going to be it.
The hairdresser has become an icon since taking part in Queer Eye, where he helps change people’s lives through the medium of hair (it’s more serious than it sounds, OK?).
But it’s changes in his own life that he’s discussing in his latest interview, revealing that he now identifies as non-binary.
JVN told Out magazine: “The older I get, the more I think that I’m nonbinary — I’m gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman.”
It’s a relatively new realisation for the reality star, as although he’s “been wearing heels and wearing makeup and wearing skirts and stuff for a minute, honey” he didn’t know that there was a name for how he felt.
“I didn’t think I was allowed to be nonconforming or genderqueer or nonbinary — I was just always like “a gay man” because that’s just the label I thought I had to be,” he said.
“I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to.”
While Van Hess, who is currently following a childhood dream of training to become a figure skater, still prefers to use he/him pronouns, he says that he adores femme culture and feels “like my feminine identity is what makes me the strongest”.
With an Instagram account that’s full of photos of himself wearing skirts and dresses that automatically end up on our must-buy lists, and videos showing him dancing in heels to Beyoncé that can get us through even the bleakest Monday, we’re eternally grateful that he shares that side of himself.
But unfortunately it wasn’t always like that: “When I was really young, I had really femme-shamey, gender-shamey [comments] when I would dress like that. When I would play with those things, I knew it needed to be before the sun came up or after the sun came down, like, in the basement and it needed to be something I couldn’t wear to school.”
During this Pride Month, he’s reminded us how we all need to play a role in ending this type of shaming and show support for the LGBTQ+ community, saying: “Pride is a great opportunity for all of us to like, not only celebrate ourselves but also bring new people into the fold of allyship and into the fold of awareness.
“Let’s think about different ways to talk to our families that lives in like Midwestern and Southern states [about] like, state legislatures in 2020. Obviously celebrate Pride, but anyone we can talk to to get our more gorgeous votes for our state legislatures and like continue to flip some state houses — we really need to get this Equality Act passed.”