Jonathan Van Ness may have seemingly burst onto the national scene snapping his fingers, punctuated with a resounding "Yas, queen!" when Netflix revived Queer Eye in 2018, but the hairdresser-podcaster-author jack of all trades had been serving realness for years. He started his podcast Getting Curious in 2015 and had been recapping Game of Thrones episodes on his Funny or Die web series, Gay of Thrones, since the HBO show's first season. Since the popularity of Queer Eye, though, Van Ness has gone on tour—which brought him to Seattle for the first time last fall—and penned a new book, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love. This Pride month brought Van Ness back, this time to officiate a wedding at Elysian Brewing.
Seattle Met stole a moment to chat with the nuptials emcee. In his own words, Van Vess talks Seattle audiences, the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, presiding over a gay wedding in a brewery, and not putting yourself in a box. —Rosin Saez
My first trip [to Seattle] was just for my tour last October and the venue was gorgeous and the people were amazing. Actually, Seattle was like, the only place that got this—well, I don't do it anymore—but last summer I was doing this thing on my tour where I was doing this call-and-repeat exercise towards the end. But you had to be like basically an expert in Sister Act 2 to understand how to do it. Out of all seven places that my friend Kyle and I like really explained it and did it...when you get to the end, you break into song and just go with it. And Seattle was the only location where when we got to the end like, He taught me how, ohh! It was really funny but, Seattle, we had that deep intimate connection. I think that Seattle and I are very aligned on like favorite movies, which is, you know, a relief.
This [month] is the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. That was really where Pride literally started, and it started really in, like, a rebellion of our trans women of color—founding mothers of our Pride revolution started there. It was from LGBTQ people standing up with bricks and beer cans, honey, and being like, No absolutely not.
Having the opportunity to have brands like Elysian celebrate Pride is really, really fun. And it feels like there's just more celebration around the LGBTQ community, but at the same time it feels important to hold onto the fact that, 50 years ago, Pride really did start from a rebellion. We had a repressive entity that was literally discriminating against us. And I think that this administration in 2019 has made it very, very clear that they are like no friend to the LGBTQ community.
So, it's a conflicting time. In some ways we still have the inertia from some of the equality that we gained from, like, Obama years...[but] people are still fighting the good fight. And the midterm elections were, you know, a nice reminder of the power of us coming together. But I also feel like Pride this year, and just generally, things feel more dire. Like, use your platform and don't do a fluff answer about what Pride means to you—talk about it, like, we have to talk about it.
But to be a part of this day with these people is so special to me, they're such a gorgeous couple. They have such an incredible story. But also the Supreme Court decision that was handed down a year ago [June 4] was very nuanced. It obviously wasn’t a win. We just need to highlight the fact that, you know, marriage equality is a law of the land, and highlight the fact that doing business that's not discriminatory is chic, is something to be rewarded—what is more American than like rewarding people with money? Yes, okay, Supreme Court like have your little like elite-y, weird...conservative ruling but, like, we're going to be over here, like, really voting with our pocketbooks and showing that, you know, we want businesses to serve people equally.
It's okay to, like, not know. I often didn't know I just was being myself and presenting as myself because that was just what came naturally to me. So, not having to necessarily put yourself in a box...you don't have to know who you are today. And you don't have to act like you do. My dad always used to say, "There's nothing broken beyond repair right now."