“We cannot take our hard-fought rights for granted. This is the time to get involved.”
Jonathan Van Ness, adoringly known to so many as simply, JVN, is a true force for visibility and representation. A TV personality, host, bestselling author, hiv-positive and undetectable nonbinary truth-teller and Texas resident, JVN is best known for their podcast and Netflix series Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness as well as the 10-time-Emmy Award and GLAAD Media Award winning series Queer Eye. JVN proudly uses their platform to raise awareness for a range of issues, from breaking gender roles to living with HIV and advocating for access to healthcare.
On Saturday, Van Ness was honored with GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award at the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. Every year, GLAAD presents The Vito Russo Award to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance. The Award is named for Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories. Past recipients of this honor include Wilson Cruz, Billy Porter, Anderson Cooper, Ricky Martin, Andy Cohen, RuPaul, Cynthia Nixon, Samira Wiley, and George Takei.
The award was presented to JVN by fellow nonbinary activist ALOK who said, “The thing about Jonathan Van Ness is you’ll be in a deep conversation about something serious like electoral politics and LGBTQ activism and he’ll stop mid-sentence and give that illustrious expression that makes even emojis envious and then proceed to lovingly encourage you to deep condition your hair more often.”
ALOK also shared that it was JVN who helped them realize it was possible to be “both gender non-conforming and happy.” They went on to say that “Jonathan’s heart is the beauty tutorial the world needs most.”
JVN then took the stage to accept the award. Watch their acceptance speech here:
In JVN’s impassioned acceptance, they called out bigotry and challenged all who listen to take action in their own way, while voicing support for key organizations of the LGBTQ movement today like Equality Texas, on the front lines of fighting for our rights.
“If you have not noticed, we are in the midst of an attack on LGBTQIA freedom,” they started the speech by saying. “This year alone, we have faced over 540 anti-LGBTQ+ state bills… I am not willing to sit on the sidelines as these grown bullies attempt to erase our community.”
JVN also used their speech as a call to action. “Going to the Capitol to protest harmful bills while the lawmakers there do nothing to address healthcare, poverty, safety gun violence or infrastructure is what I must do! What we all must do!”
They went on to say that “These lawmakers claim to protect children from “drag queens” and ban books, but we can’t allow ourselves to be the distraction that conservative media focuses everyone on. Queer people are not a threat. Poverty, lack of education, lack of healthcare, corporate greed, white nationalism and an out-of-control gun lobby is the real threat we are all facing today.”
JVN, who has lived in Texas for nearly four years now, knows firsthand how important it is now to stand up and fight back. “We need to proudly say we are pro-queer, pro-trans, pro-abortion rights, pro-immigration, we are pro-HUMAN!”