'Queer Eye' Star Responds to Marjorie Taylor Greene Comparison of HIV Status to COVID Vaccination

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday October 19, 2021

"Queer Eye" star Jonathan Van Ness jumped in to correct the record when Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted a comparison between Magic Johnson's HIV status and an unvaccinated NBA player being benched, Pink News reported.

"The fascist NBA won't let Kyrie Irving play for refusing a vaccine," Greene declared in an Oct. 14 tweet, The Washington Post reported. "But yet they still let Magic Johnson play with HIV."

Greene's tweet followed one from Irving, who plays for the Brooklyn Mets. Irving "opened up about his decision to remain unvaccinated and miss games and practices until he fulfilled New York City's coronavirus vaccine mandate," the Post noted.

The Post recalled that Green "has promoted coronavirus misinformation and was temporarily suspended from Twitter after she falsely said that vaccines are failing," and noted that a conservative chorus joined in, with Florida's Lavern Spicer, a candidate for the House of Representatives, claiming that Johnson had "FULL-BLOWN HIV" while he was still active in the NBA.

Green's tweet missed fundamental facts about Johnson's career and mischaracterized the nature of HIV transmission, news sources noted. Johnson "announced his HIV diagnosis in 1991 and then abruptly retired from the sport," Insider recalled, and since then "has been credited with being a powerful advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex since his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991."

Moreover, "HIV is spread chiefly through bodily fluids and sexual contact or by sharing needles or syringes," Insider noted. "Meanwhile, COVID-19 is an airborne respiratory disease."

While there is no vaccine for HIV, a daily regimen of anti-retroviral medication effectively prevents HIV-negative people from contracting the virus, while a similar regimen can keep an HIV-positive person's viral load down to undetectable levels, making it impossible for them to transmit the virus to others.

None of this was part of Greene's messaging, but faster than you can say "Q-Anon," Jonathan Van Ness, the celebrity hairstylist who also serves as the grooming expert on "Queer Eye," jumped into the fray with tweets of his own.

"What a dumb ass," Van Ness tweeted in response to Greene's medically unsound comparison.

"HIV is sexually transmitted not a respiratory virus, not to mention HIV+ folks who take ART and are undetectable [and] untransmittable."

Van Ness, an advocate for literacy around HIV who has been open about his positive status since 2019, followed up with a second tweet in which he added: "Dumb, dumb, dumb fucks at it again. Learn about HIV y'all. Enough with this fear-mongering."

The tweet is not Greene's first inapt comparison between COVID and other major issues, Insider noted, recalling that lat May Greene "compared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional mask mandate to the Holocaust.

"She then doubled down on those comments, likening proof of vaccination to Jews being forced to wear a yellow star during the Holocaust," Insider added.

The Post noted that the NBA had not, in fact, decided that unvaccinated team members could not play. The league "does not have a vaccine mandate," the Post noted, adding that despite this, "roughly 95 percent of players [were] vaccinated as of the end of last month.

"The league, however, is requiring teams to comply with local mandates, such as the one in New York City," the Post added. "The citywide mandate includes Barclays Center in Brooklyn, home of the Nets."

The Post noted that Stan Van Gundy, a former NBC coach, took to Twitter to point out that "The NBA is not keeping Irving from playing." Van Gundy also made a wry comment about Greene's mastery of factual matters: "Shocked MTG didn't understand that. She always seems so well-informed."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.