According to Jonathan Van Ness of the Netflix series Queer Eye, "Writing a book is kind of like putting your soul into a food processor."
Van Ness discussed that new book, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, at a sold out discussion at Music Box Theatre the evening of Sept. 28. The presentation, entitled "Jonathan Van Ness: Beyond Permission," was presented by Chicago Ideas.
Van Ness first discussed how he conceived the title Over the Topa reference to his family's references to his being "over the top."
"It's almost impossible to embarrass me," he joked.
Model/body positivity expert Denise Bidot moderated the talk, with a performance by Chicago Gay Men's Chorus preceding it.
Among the topics Van Ness and Bidot covered were his small-town upbringing, which he loathed, and his beloved mother and stepfather.
"Every day since getting out of high school has been like being on vacation," he said.
Van Ness said writing the book was therapeutic, and was a way for him to get overwhelming thoughts about past traumas and joys down on the the printed page and out of his head.
"I feel like I absolutely have to tell this story," Van Ness explained. He is HIV-positive and spoke at length about the importance for anyone who is sexually active to know basic information about HIV, and the absolute necessity for society to eliminate anti-HIV stigma.
"Living with HIV is not an issue," he said. "The not-talking about it is an issue."
Related: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/US-rep-meets-with-Queer-Eye-co-host/67119.html .