Davis Bates for GAY TIMES

“Binaries are a very recent construct that are used to hold people down.”

Jonathan Van Ness has stressed the importance of respecting people’s chosen pronouns.

The Queer Eye star – who identifies as non-binary – recently made history as the first non-female cover star of Cosmopolitan, and told the publication that he didn’t originally use ‘they/them’ pronouns when they came out.

“I am literally OK with ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’. I’ve never felt the binary was something I fit into anyway, even though I didn’t know there was anything I could do about it,” he said. “Sometimes ‘her’ is something I totes want to dim and other times it’s not.”

Discussing Sam Smith, who came out as non-binary earlier this year, Jonathan said: “I saw a lot of people on Twitter who were out of their goddamn minds to Sam when they came out. There was a lot of support for them but I also saw a lot of trolls.

“So I do think there are a lot of people who need to do a lot more work on understanding that binaries are a very recent construct that are used to hold people down, and to ‘other’ people all the time.

“When we ‘other’ people we can diminish them and treat them any way we like, and we know that othering people is super dangerous. So I do think there needs to be more work and more understanding. I think it’s good we’re having so many conversations. I also think that Sam Smith is FEARLESS and I just love and applaud them.”

Jonathan also addressed what people should do when they make a mistake with non-binary people’s pronouns.

“The thing to do if you do make a mistake is to not keep bringing it up,” he said. “Acknowledge the mistake once, do better, and just keep going. If we keep bringing it up and apologising then it makes it about your mistake and it ‘others’ even more.

“I don’t want to speak for everyone else but I think if you can just say, ‘Got it, respecting you, coming to that table and conversation all force. Maybe just issue one blanket apology ahead of time and then really do your best.”

Related: Jonathan Van Ness on his HIV status, calling out Cardi B and cancel culture.