Photo courtesy of Millikin University
Photo courtesy of Millikin University

Jonathan Van Ness Comes to Millikin

October 5, 2021

Jonathan Van Ness is coming to Millikin for National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. Van Ness is a nonbinary comedian, hairstylist, podcaster, and member of the Fab Five on Netflix’s “Queer Eye.” (Van Ness uses he/they/she pronouns.) Originally from Quincy Illinois, Van Ness has traveled across the U.S from LA to New York while pursuing their career.

In anticipation of the Oct. 11th show here at Millikin, I talked to Van Ness about role models, their career, and coming out in college.

In 2019, Van Ness published an autobiography titled “Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love.” Between chapters, they included a sixth-grade report on the Bill Clinton sex scandal as a breather from their story. When asked what grade they got on the paper, Van Ness said it actually was not written as an assignment, but they wrote it for fun and to process their feelings about the news, which was constantly bombarding people with this story at the time.

“I was an interesting sixth grader. I was—definitely. Yeah,” Van Ness said.

One of the report’s main arguments was that Clinton failed Van Ness and many other children as a role model. Years later, Van Ness themself has very much managed to become a role model for many people—especially young queer people. 

“I want to be someone for people that I didn’t necessarily have,” Van Ness said. “I want to do right by people, I want to help spread awareness, I want to help more people learn more and be more curious and do things that fill them with joy, and also do things that are good for themselves and for their community…and I think we all fall short, we all can like, do better on certain things.”

In theme with their visit, Van Ness also has some advice to offer college students who are questioning their identities or considering coming out.

First, “Congratulations on being alive and available for this process of being in community with such amazing people!” Van Ness said. 

Second, they want people to know, “It’s all about compassion; compassion for yourself, and love and acceptance for yourself…There is a huge, beautiful LGBTQ community that is awaiting…There’s no rush, there doesn’t have to be pressure. It really can be such a unique and beautiful experience for every single person who does it. Knowing that there’s no right way, knowing that there’s no perfect way—or even like a normal way—to come out. Everyone has their own process and their own experience. And all of those ways are valid, and special, and beautiful, and you’re valid, and special, and beautiful.”

While we all wait in anticipation for Van Ness’s show, there is one other thing on the entertainer’s mind. They have recently released a clean, sustainable haircare brand called JVN Hair. Products are meant to be affordable as well as work on all hair types.

“I’m excited to see y’all!” Van Ness said. They added they’re also excited to be going back on stage again after such a long time.

Van Ness will be performing at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Monday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. for this year’s Goodheart Event. The event is only open to the Millikin University campus community and the doors open at 6 p.m.

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