Tan France wants you to know why Jonathan Van Ness wasn’t at the Emmys

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Kayleigh Dray
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Karamo Brown attend the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Queer Eye’s Fab Five were the Fab Four last night – but Tan France says JVN had a very good reason for missing the event.

For the second year in a row, Queer Eye won ‘Outstanding Structured Reality Program’ at the Emmys – so it makes sense that Tan France, Karamo Brown, Antoni Perowski and Bobby Berk showed up to the red carpet looking like absolute fashion winners.

Brown donned a “new modern tux” – complete with cape – by Versace, while Perowski kept things ultra-classic in a Ralph Lauren Purple Label dinner jacket. Berk teamed a sheer tee with his Amiri tuxedo jacket, while France made a point of “representing Queer Eye, QE Crew and Pakistan” in a shimmering kurta by Varun Bahl Couture.

Notably missing from the red carpet line-up, though, was Jonathan Van Ness. Over the weekend, the New York Times revealed that the beauty guru’s new memoir, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love (due to be released on 24 September), reveals how he’s living with HIV after overcoming drug addiction and childhood sexual abuse.

“It’s hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven’t shared publicly,” he says in the book, adding that the day he learned of his diagnosis was “just as devastating” as readers might imagine.

“These are issues that need to be talked about.”

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France, though, was quick to shut down rumours that Van Ness’ incredibly brave revelation had anything to do with him missing the high-profile awards show.

“Prime Time Emmys with my boys,” the fashion expert captioned a red carpet photo on his Instagram feed. 

“P.S don’t panic, JVN couldn’t make it because he was moving house today.”

Over the weekend, Van Ness published a note on his Instagram Story thanking fans for their support and explaining that he will be taking some time out to be with his family and new kittens (whom he refers to as ‘bittens’).

“Taking the next few days to rest up and spend time with my bittens and mom before the book tour gets going,” he said. 

“I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I’m ready. [And I] just want to say thank you all so much, especially my Queer Eye family and countless other friends and family for reaching out today.”

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Since Van Ness’ diagnosis was revealed, his social feed has been flooded with messages of love and support from friends and fans alike.

“Love you baby boy,” Berk commented via Instagram, adding that he is “so proud of” his Queer Eye co-star for being so open and honest.

France, in full capital letters, echoed that sentiment, writing: “LOVE YOU JACKI!”

And Perowski added: “Love you, proud of you.”

Outside the Queer Eye family, Derry Girls’ Nicola Coughlan noted: “You’re brave and brilliant.”

Michelle Kwan, Olympic figure skater and close friend of JVN, said: “Thank you for allowing yourself to be so raw and open and showing the world that vulnerability can be a strength. Love you.”

And Grasie Mercedes added: “Love this. Love you. Can’t wait to read the book!”

This support has likely proved a huge relief to Van Ness, who previously stated that the stigma around HIV is still hard to overcome.

“These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup,” he explained to the NYT.

“That doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid, but I want people to realise you’re never too broken to be fixed.”

Understanding the difference between HIV and AIDS

As noted on the Terrence Higgins Trust website, HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. ‘Immunodeficiency’ refers to the weakening of the immune system by the virus.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a collection of illnesses (‘syndrome’) caused by a virus people pick up (‘acquire’) that makes their immune system weak (‘immune deficiency’).

You can’t get an AIDS diagnosis unless you’re already HIV positive. However, thanks to modern antiretroviral treatment, very few people in the UK develop serious HIV-related illnesses.

As Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, says: “We’ve made huge medical advances in the fight against HIV that means people living with HIV […] now live long healthy lives. We can also say without doubt that those on effective HIV treatment can’t pass on the virus.”

For more information or support, visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website now. You can also call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 for support, advice and information.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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