×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Karamo Brown and Bobby Berk Praise ‘Queer Eye’ Co-Star Jonathan Van Ness for Revealing HIV Diagnosis

Queer Eye” stars Karamo Brown and Bobby Berk were among the many who came out to support Saturday night’s Hearts of Gold concert at the Greek Theater, a celebration the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

But the topic inevitably turned to their costar Jonathan Van Ness, who came out as HIV+ and a survivor of sexual abuse earlier in the day in an interview with The New York Times.

“We’ve been there supporting him around this decision that he had to make,” Berk told Variety. “We’re just so happy that he feels supported today. It’s been a positive thing. People are having a good reaction to it. And that’s all that we can hope for — that he’s happy and feels supported.”

Brown drew a connection between Van Ness and the LGBT Center. “As Bobby talked about: Jonathan is doing exactly what the center does,” said Brown, who worked there with kids in need of positive role models for seven years. “And what we try to promote on ‘Queer Eye,’ which is letting people know: ‘You’re not alone. And that if I can make it, you can make it, too.’”

ValentinaLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of Gold' Concert, Arrivals, The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 21 Sep 2019
CREDIT: Ovidiu Hrubaru/Shutterstock

Center CEO Lorri L. Jean opened the evening with a speech about the center’s history and fight for LGBTQ rights. “Every human being deserves freedom, justice and equality, dignity respect and love, acceptance, health and happiness and that is what your center is fighting for and what we’ve spent 50 years building,” she said.

Brown was a social worker at the center for seven years before becoming a “Queer Eye” star. “I know first-hand what it is like for kids who come here — because if they don’t have any support, they feel lost, like their life is over. And this group of people rally around them and say, ‘We love you.’”

The cause also resonates on a personal level with Berk. “I used to be a homeless youth and I didn’t have a center with a support system,” he told Variety. “This was in Missouri — the Bible belt. I left home at a very young age [because] I was in a town where coming out was not an option. And so instead of ending my life, I chose to live — even if that meant being homeless. For kids to have a center like this to go to for support, to get housing, to get educational assistance? It’s important to me because I didn’t have it.”

Melissa EtheridgeLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of Gold' Concert, Show, The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 21 Sep 2019
CREDIT: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Valentina, one of the breakout stars from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” who went on to co-star in the TV musical “Rent: Live,” pointed out the lack of representation for the community’s gender non-conforming members.

“There needs to be more examples of queer visibility,” she told Variety. “People that are non-binary deserve to have their own lane. You don’t have to fit in a box — just create your own.” As a native Angeleno, Valentina has relied on the center as a resource for healthcare. “Oh, honey, I am a sexual creature,” she said. “I go to get tested all the time. You gotta know your [HIV] status. And I thank the LGBT Center for making me feel really comfortable.”

Added Rufus Wainwright: “I’ve lived through several really dark periods in the gay male community, and the LGBT Center has always been there on the battle front ready to help us — with no questions asked and no judgements — just to keep us alive and well and loved.”

Since this evening was a celebration of the community’s history as well as its diversity, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda took the stage to reflect on the significance of five decades of service to LGBTQ people.

“50 years of queer!” shouted Fonda. “Oh, God, Lily — what I wouldn’t give to be 50 again.” A black and white photo of Harvey Milk, the first gay elected official in California, sharing a laugh with Fonda flashed on an overhead screen, which proved that much like the center, she’s always been there for the community. Milk had requested Fonda’s assistance to fight a ballot measure attempting to ban gay teachers; it was defeated in November of 1978, but the iconic politician was murdered later that same month.

“Harvey was the most fantastic human being,” Fonda said. “He loved life so much.”

Lily Tomlin and Jane FondaLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of Gold' Concert, Arrivals, The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 21 Sep 2019
CREDIT: Ovidiu Hrubaru/Shutterstock

As it turns out, Valentina wasn’t wearing the biggest wig at the event: That distinction goes to queer pop star Sia, who kicked off the night’s concert with a pair of songs along with an interpretive dance from Maddie Ziegler. Other highlights included Wainwright channeling gay icon Judy Garland by belting out “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and a surprise performance from Melissa Etheridge, who treated the crowd to her hits “Come to My Window” and “I’m the Only One.”

More Music

  • Alicia Keys23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards,

    Alicia Keys Will Return as 2020 Grammy Awards Host

    Alicia Keys will return as the host of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. Keys hosted the awards show for the first time in 2019. She will become the third woman and the first female music star to host the show twice. Keys has won 15 Grammy awards and is second only to Paul Simon as [...]

  • Lady Antebellum and Halsey53rd Annual CMA

    Halsey Puts the Extra Lady in Lady Antebellum in Elegant CMA Awards Medley

    Halsey is increasingly proving herself a woman for all seasons in her varied TV appearances and awards show collaborations, and Wednesday’s CMA Awards telecast was no exception, as she ingratiated herself into the country vocal trio Lady Antebellum for some flawless four-part harmony on a medley of two of their respective hits. She and Lady [...]

  • Drummers Steve Gorman, left, and Dave

    Steve Gorman Calls The Black Crowes' Reunion ‘Sad’

    The Black Crowes made waves this week when they officially announced a lengthy reunion tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album “Shake Your Money Maker.” The news was chiefly met with excitement and positive vibes, including glowing reviews of their first show in six years at the Bowery Ballroom in New York [...]

  • Lil Nas X53rd Annual CMA Awards,

    CMA Awards 2019: Full Winners List (Updating Live)

    The CMA Awards are taking place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Wednesday night, with Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton hosting. The ceremony is airing live on ABC. Maren Morris leads the nominations with six total. Nominees and winners were selected by more than 7,400 industry professional members from the Country Music Association. [...]

  • Billie Eilish performs during Music MidTown

    Song Review: Billie Eilish’s ‘Everything I Wanted’ (Listen)

    Virtually everything about Billie Eilish’s career has been against the grain, unusual or at least unlike basically everyone else, and that’s also the case with “Everything I Wanted,” her first new song since July’s “Bad Guy” remix with Justin Bieber. Frankly, it couldn’t be much further from “Bad Guy”: Neither a menacing banger like that [...]

  • Paradigm's Liz Morentin portrait session in

    Paradigm's Executive VP of Communications Liz Morentin to Exit Agency

    Liz Morentin is stepping down from her role as executive vice president of communications at Paradigm, Variety has learned. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Morentin’s departure was amicable and she will stay on at the agency through the end of the year to help with the transition. No replacement has been named at [...]

  • Carrie UnderwoodThe Grand Ole Opry, Nashville,

    How to Watch the 2019 CMA Awards Online

    Carrie Underwood fans can catch her hosting the 53rd annual Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night. While her usual co-host Brad Paisley has bowed out of the gig this year, Underwood will continue her 12-year streak with Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton joining her. Together, the three will celebrate the biggest names in today’s country [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content