In the cover image, Van Ness, who identifies as non-binary and uses male pronouns, sports a voluminous orange and pink tulle Christian Siriano gown with a ruffled, off-the-shoulder neckline, paired with Nike sneakers with striped tube socks. “Jonathan Van Ness: Yep, we did it. You’re totally welcome,” the magazine’s cover line reads.
While the British boy band One Direction fronted Cosmopolitan UK in Dec. 2012, Van Ness is the first non-female-identifying figure to land the cover on their own since Boy George in 1984.
Cosmopolitan UK editor-in-chief Claire Hodgson tells TIME the choice to feature Van Ness is a way to represent the magazine’s diverse readership.
“Jonathan is warm, funny, opinionated, kind and brave, all qualities that resonate with our audience,” Hodgson says. “He is encouraging people to love who they are, which is at the heart of what our brand stands for – we could all do with a little more self-love in our lives.”
Van Ness shared the cover image on his personal Instagram account, along with the caption, “My body is ready 💗 1st non Female cover star of @cosmopolitanuk in 35 YEARS 🏳️🌈.”
Cosmopolitan U.S. featured actor Charles Melton on their April 2019 cover along with Yara Shahidi, in promotion of their movie The Sun Is Also a Star. Cosmo is also well-known for its male centerfolds from the 70s and 80s; the magazine did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it has featured a non-female celeb on its cover solo.
This isn’t the first time that Van Ness has broken boundaries and smashed gender-normative stereotypes; the Queer Eye star has worn dresses on multiple red carpets and public appearances, wrote candidly about being HIV-positive in his recent memoir, and recently became Essie nail polish’s first non-female brand ambassador.
This article has been updated with details of Boy George’s 1984 Cosmo U.K. cover, 35 years prior to Van Ness’s.
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