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Jonathan Van Ness tells LGBTQ+ people to shout their existence in powerful speech

Jonathan Van Ness, a bearded white person with long hair, stands in a black shiny dress at a Netflix red carpet event.
Jonathan Van Ness Photo: Shutterstock

Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness made a powerful speech outside the Texas State Capitol on Monday as part of a rally against the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Introduced as an “HIV positive and undetectable nonbinary truthteller,” Van Ness opened by saying they felt “blessed” to have spent the past three years in Texas because they have met people who have shown them “so much beauty.”

But, they said, “We have child poverty at an all-time high. We have access to health care at an all-time low. People are fighting like they have never fought before for basic human rights, and we are out here debating trans issues that these legislators have no idea about.”

Van Ness said the situation reminds them of Wendy Davis, a former Texas lawmaker known for her 11-hour filibuster to stall an anti-abortion bill.

“We will have to do that,” Van Ness declared. “We will have to be back on these steps in, those chambers, fighting for our rights. This is the first of many times. This session ends at the end of May. We will be looking forward to seeing all of you again.”

“I was taught growing up that you never talk about religion or politics,” Van Ness continued. “As I have grown older, I have realized that that is a relic of the patriarchy to keep those in power in power. Because they know that when we start to talk about what is really going on, their smoke and mirrors game is gone.”

They encouraged listeners to talk about their “existence” and “humanity” everywhere they go.

“Do not let anyone silence the things that move your life,” they said, “Whether that is politics, religion, your faith, your spirit. Because let me tell you something: These people on the right, they are not silencing their faith to legislate your lives.”

Amidst thunderous cheers, Van Ness concluded, “I love you Texas. We’re in this together. Let’s do the damn thing.”

Texas Republicans have already filed almost 50 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year, more than any other state, according to a report from the ACLU. Among other things, the bills seek to ban drag performances, block people from accessing gender-affirming care, and even force trans kids to de-transition.

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