By Andrea Tuccillo
Several months back, Elton John and Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness came together for an episode of Instagram’s #Advocates series to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS and discuss the stigma still surrounding the disease. It’s now available for viewing in celebration of Pride Month.
During their chat, which took place earlier this year ahead of the annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party, Elton applauded Van Ness for being open about his own HIV status.
“I wanted to be able to show up in my life and in the rooms that I find myself in and be able to speak to my experience,” Van Ness said. “And it’s interesting, part of why I was scared to talk about it, I was like, I didn’t want my whole career to be necessarily defined by it. That was what my fear was. Now I’m like, ‘Let’s define it. Yes, yes. I want to help.'”
Van Ness, who’s living a healthy life thanks to proper medication, credited Elton for being a major inspiration to him.
“Your ability to speak so honestly and transparently to what your experience has been has enabled me to be honest and it emboldens me to be courageous,” he said.
Elton said he wants to keep fighting for people’s rights until the day he dies, because he realizes he’s been so lucky in his own life.
“If I help people by being gay, if I help people with the AIDS Foundation, if I help people with my music or help people get sober and clean…that’s the least I can do,” Elton explained. “You just have to give back all the time.”