Television

'Kicks' and words of wisdom from a first time JFL host, Jonathan Van Ness

A look at the career of a popular LGBTQ+ celebrity, nonbinary influncer and now, Just for Laughs host.

A look at the career of a popular LGBTQ+ celebrity, nonbinary influncer and now, Just for Laughs host.

(Sara Jaye Weiss/Shutterstock)

Jonathan Van Ness, also known as JVN, is a hairdresser, podcaster, and Emmy-nominated television personality with a flowery disposition just as vibrant as his career.

From being a member of Queer Eye's Fab Five to writing a New York Times best-selling book, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, JVN has done it all. 

He became the first non-female Cosmopolitan UK cover star in the last 35 years and has broken many barriers, including those of personal nature — dealing with drug addiction, childhood sexual abuse, and his HIV-positive diagnosis, at age 25.

However, JVN hasn't let his past situations hold him back. In an interview with James Corden he says that it's possible, through a lot of hard work and intensive therapy, to make your way back onto a course and he's done that plus so much more. 

JVN's magnetic personality and strong work ethic have made him a widely popular star and influencer, but it's not lost to the Queer Eye star that he can use his voice to pay it forward and ensure positive change in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

He used his profile and platforms to elevate marginalized voices, writing a kids book about a gender nonbinary guinea pig.

 

JVN also uses his podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness to have important conversations such as talking to the district attorney, Rachael Rollins, on police brutality, systemic racism and how DAs can play a role in police reform. 

 

Or discussing the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement with the co-founder, Alicia Garza.

 

In 2019, JVN hosted his very own and first Just for Laughs gala, titled "Kicks." The gala featured performances by Marina Franklin, Solomon Georgio, DeAnne Smith, Mawaan Rizwan, Ted Morris, Beth Stelling, and Trixie Mattel. You can watch his special on CBC Gem.

Jonathan Van Ness in Montreal hosting the JFL Gala for the first time. (CBC)

Quotes of wisdom

We leave you with a few of JVN's powerful quotes that may resonate — some of which are from his books and others from episodes of Queer Eye.

"As scary as this can be, I want you to know: no matter how broken you feel, and how seemingly unlikely it is, we are never too broken to heal." ― Jonathan Van Ness, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

"Just because we mess up doesn't mean all the lessons we learned are undone. Healing can be imperfect." ― Jonathan Van Ness, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

"How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you. It's okay to have a relationship with yourself." Jonathan Van Ness, Queer Eye

Jonathan Van Ness at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Viewing Party. (Photo by Stewart Cook/Shutterstock)

"My default is to be really critical of myself, but the world will do that for me, so I gotta make sure I always know I have my back." ― Jonathan Van Ness, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

"There's a rhyme and reason behind my effervescent spirit — and no, I did not wake up like this. It took a lot of trauma and tears to become the person you see today." ― Jonathan Van Ness, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

Be sure to watch JVN's JFL special, "Kicks," on CBC Gem.

About the Author

Vanja Mutabdzija Jaksic is a producer, journalist and a perpetual optimist who loves a good show/film, breathes music, writes poetry, and dabbles in tech and innovative ways of storytelling (including through XR/VR/AR/MR). You can find her stories at cbc.ca/television and cbc.ca/comedy or follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @neptunes_blues.

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