LGBTQ+ icons Elton John and Jonathan Van Ness discuss progress in fighting AIDS, stress need to keep testing
The legendary pop star met with the 'Queer Eye' poster boy to talk about a variety of issues in a recently unveiled pre-quarantine conversation on Instagram.
The month of June is celebrated worldwide as Pride Month 2020, aimed to celebrate and support the often marginalized members of the LGBTQIA++ community. In a video which released on June 24, beloved LGBTQIA++ icons Sir Elton John and 'Queer Eye' star Jonathan Van Ness sat down for Instagram’s weekly Advocates series, which spotlights people from all over the world who are sparking positive change to discuss the progress made to combat the twin issues of AIDS and HIV. Although viewed as a life-threatening epidemic when it first started plaguing the world on a global scale in the early '80s, medical advancements, coupled with improvements in education has helped keep people informed and protected from the highly-publicized infection.
The caption for the recent video read: "We sat down with the duo ahead of the annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party as they discussed how to be better allies to those affected by this disease. On this very special episode of #Advocates, learn more from Elton and Jonathan on how to stand up for this community and how to treat one another with more love, kindness and respect. 💕" You can view the entire clip here.
Van Ness first spoke about the far-reaching impact of HIV/AIDS, saying, "One thing I wish that people knew about people living with HIV/AIDS is that it affects everybody, every age, every race, no matter where you're from. You cannot tell if someone is living with HIV/AIDS." He added, "I wish that most people knew that they probably do know someone who was living with HIV/AIDS who just doesn't talk about it, because there is shame and stigma attached to it."
When Elton asked him about his commendable decision to bravely open up about his own HIV diagnosis, Van Ness said, "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. And it's interesting. Part of why I was scared to talk about it... 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 because I want to help."
He also added later, "Once I found my doctor and found my access to medication, which I needed... I feel amazing. I'm thriving. I have zero side effects. I take a pill at 10:00 at night and next thing I know, I'm just up doing some hair the next day, like, feeling amazing. I was undetectable in two weeks."
Van Ness also admitted to Elton, "Your ability to speak so honestly and transparently to what your experience has been enables me to be honest, and it emboldens me to be courageous." He also added, "But the advocate and the fighter and the icon that you are, I just thank you so much for it."
Elton then revealed, "If I help people by being gay, if I help people with the AIDS Foundation, and I help people with my music or help people get sober and clean, that's the least I can do. You just have to give back all the time."
Elton also talked about the work that was left to be done. "We've made great scientific strides, but we've just got to keep hammering on the door and getting as much publicity as we can. And people are still being very generous and donating, but we need to keep that up. We're trying to make people get tested. We're trying to get people to know their status. We're trying to help transgender people. Because there's still a big battle to be won."
Elton also talked about his fortunate and grateful position. "I am so lucky to be alive. I'm so happy to be alive. I have two of the most beautiful children, the most wonderful husband, the best life, the best career, great friends. And, you know, I'm in a fortunate position to try and do as much as I can. And I will do until the day I die. I will be fighting for people's rights. And that's the least I can do because I've been so lucky in my life."
In closing, Van Ness asked Elton, "What is your hope for the future?" To which the singer replied, "Be more loving to each other. Be more understanding of each other. Be more accepting to people who are HIV positive. Embrace them. Hold them. Love them. You will find that life gets better and better. For you, I just see nothing but happiness."