In a preview of his book with the New York Times, Van Ness opened up about his early struggles with sex and drug addiction as well as his experience with sexual assault, revealing that he was abused by an older boy from his childhood church.
“For a lot of people who are survivors of sexual assault at a young age, we have a lot of compounded trauma,” he said.
That trauma, Van Ness revealed, led to a series of other “self-destructive” behaviors, including spending hours in AOL chat rooms, which he used to meet up with older men for sex in his teens. Later on, Van Ness started college at the University of Arizona in Tucson where he began doing cocaine. And after spending his monthly allowance on the drug, he began advertising sex for more money. Soon after, he flunked out of college.
Van Ness then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a hairstylist, where he was introduced to methamphetamine, resulting in two rehab trips and two relapses. It wasn’t until he fainted while working in a salon that he “cleaned up” his act. The day after he fainted, Van Ness revealed, he went to Planned Parenthood where he tested positive for H.I.V.
“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes.
Following his diagnosis, Van Ness said he still drinks and smokes marijuana but hasn’t done hard drugs in years. “Over the Top” is set to be released on Sept. 24.