Queer Eye star gets help from fans to go back to KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) -- Attention from a television show is helping a Lawrence woman turn her life around.

When Jess Guilbeaux was 16, she came out as gay. Her adoptive family disowned her and kicked her out of her home.

“Supporting myself at that time was just me doing what I needed to do,” Guilbeaux said. “There wasn't any other option. It was either that or not survive."

She made it to the University of Kansas, but dropped out because of debt.

Her story caught the attention of the Fab Five on the Netflix show Queer Eye and she was featured on the latest season.

"Since the show, it's really inspired me to just love myself and be super confident and push myself out of whatever's comfortable," Guilbeaux said.

Her fashion idol Janelle Monáe also took notice.

"For her to see my episode and say that I’m her hero and that she is inspired by me,” Guilbeaux said. “I’m inspired by her, so like your hero is inspired by you what else can you ask for?"

But it wasn’t just celebrities, fans from across the country reached out to share their stories.

"I expected queer people, women, people who have are adopted or disowned or whatever to connect but it's everyone,” Guilbeaux said. “Everyone's kind of been through a situation where they've had to make do with what they have."

Her fans even started a GoFundMe page to help her get back to college and finish her Computer Science degree and had overwhelming response.

"I never thought that going back to school would be something that I could ever do,” Guilbeaux said. “I haven’t gone back to school yet, but I have paid off my student loans and all my debts so I plan to go back to school really, really, really, really soon."

The GoFundMe account raised over $100,000.

Jess will donate any extra money to GLAAD, an organization that fights discrimination against the LGBT+ community.