Queer Eye and Gay Of Thrones Star Jonathan Van Ness is an Emmy nominee, television personality, and hairstylist to some of Los Angeles’ biggest stars, but mostly, he’s fun to be around. Or so he showed the audience at the 5th annual Vulture Fest in New York City on May 20. The weekend, which showcases a multitude of entertainment stars and discussions, is always a fun time, but the injection of Van Ness made it particularly enjoyable for the packed room of fans who came to hear a live version of his podcast, Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness. But the most important fans there to see Jonathan’s talk? His Queer Eye cast mates Antoni Porowski and Tan France. The Queer Eye guys really are best friends and solidly united in bringing people together and supporting each other.
Jonathan’s Getting Curious discussion was really supposed to be with a special surprise guest — the actor, screenwriter, and heartthrob Justin Theroux. And it was, for the most part. But Tan, Antoni, and Antoni’s partner, Joey Krietemeyer, snuck in a few minutes into the show, and the crowd went wild. Jonathan did, too, excited that his friends were in the audience. They had all been out until all hours of the night the night before at the Saturday Night Live finale after party, and still — a very sleepy Antoni (who gets emotional when he’s tired, he said) and Tan (looking dapper in sleek black pants and pristine white sneakers) came to watch the show. They took some questions from the audience, had their own for Theroux, and helped spread the Queer Eye message of solidarity and tolerance.
When asked by an audience member about the best career advice that the Queer Eye guys have ever gotten, Tan was quick to inspire. “I got some great advice from my dad, which was to do everything. He had a few businesses, and he never expected that people would do work that he wouldn’t do, or that he wouldn’t understand,” Tan said. “I try to do this with my businesses is to make sure I learn what everybody’s doing so that I truly understand what they’ve going through. It gives me compassion.”
And speaking of compassion, Tan posed a question to Theroux about how he became such an ally. Jonathan has a good friend in Theroux now, and Tan wanted to know how Theroux became such an ally — he is, according to the Queer Eye guys, one of the most accepting and tolerant people they know.
The catalyst, said Theroux, was a pretty traumatic event. “I was really badly beaten up once by, I’m guessing, a group of straight men who thought I was gay,” Theroux said. “It was a very traumatic experience… there were about eight people, and the whole time, they were yelling epithets at me and that was a pivotal moment.”
Theroux went onto say that he was raised in a very tolerant, openhearted home, but that experience cemented his open attitude toward the world — masculine, feminine, gay, straight, male, female, everything in between. All of the men on the stage felt that being together had somehow shaped their views of the world and changed who they were fundamentally as people.
“I was sort of ignorant to the change I would undergo throughout the whole process. But it’s kind of hard not to change when you’re surrounded by people with such strong personalities,” Antoni said of filming Queer Eye. "The five of us are so Type A, and we’re so different, but we’re all brought together with one goal, to help this person. It’s incredible how much you can learn from somebody … I’ve changed as a person for the better.”
Tan echoed Antoni’s statements, saying what an impact Jonathan’s presence has had on the group. “I come from a very strict family, and I used to pretend for many years that I wasn’t gay, to the point where, even when we got the show, I would tell myself on camera not to cross my legs. This was just the first week or so,” Tan said. “After I got to know this incredible human [Jonathan] — he is an angel sent down from heaven — he encouraged us to be ourselves … he’s one of the best people you will ever meet and one of the strongest people you will ever meet.”
Can you believe? It’s so beautiful how much the men of Queer Eye love each other, and Tan and Antoni sitting in on Jonathan’s Vulture Fest panel was just a peek on how these men have grown to love and care for each other. And that, as they said, is what we need more of in this world.