Queer Eye‘s style expert Tan France had no gay friends before joining the cast of Netflix’s reality show.
France grew up in the northern England town of Doncaster in a family of Pakistani descent, where the word “gay” was never mentioned.
“We didn’t have out people in the Pakistani community, so I knew it was something hidden and not discussed. I also knew there had to be more, because there were plenty of gay men in the white community,” he said, discussing his upbringing in an interview with The Guardian published on Saturday (March 9).
After studying fashion in the UK, France eventually moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and met his husband Rob France, a paediatric nurse and former Mormon, in 2008.
It was his husband who encouraged him to audition for Queer Eye. France recalled: “My husband said, ‘You’ve been moaning for years and years that you have no gay friends. There’s going to be a room of gay men and you’re the most sociable person I know: just go.’”
So France went, and quickly bonded with the other four men who would end up become the Fab Five as we know them—food and wine specialist Antoni Porowski, interior design authority Bobby Berk, grooming master Jonathan Van Ness, culture guru Karamo Brown.
France told The Guardian he is aware he is the only gay Muslim man on American television at the moment, and is grateful to Queer Eye for giving him this platform.
“It put me in a position to represent my community in a way that I had never seen. And, I’m not just talking about the gay community, I’m talking about the Asian community,” he said.
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He also feels the pressure, he said: “There’s the pressure of how to act as a man. There is also the pressure of how you are as an Asian man, and how you are perceived and how you should behave. How you are representing yourself as an immigrant in the US—what you need to do to be the best immigrant you can be.”
France noted that he has also felt judged by the LGBT+ community for not being out and proud enough. He added: “But only you get to decide how to present yourself to the world. And I get to be the version of gay I want.”
The trailer for Queer Eye Season 3 has dropped and it’s very emotional
The trailer for Queer Eye season 3 was released last week, giving fans a sneak peek of the heroes the Fab Five will be meeting on their new missions in the new location of Kansas City, Missouri.
These will feature two first-ever makeovers: one featuring a lesbian, and the other featuring not one, but two people at the same time.
Speaking about the lesbian makeover during an appearance on Netflix’s new show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj in October, France said: “She’s formidable. What we do with her, I think you’re gonna love it.”
Queer Eye Season 3 release will precede the Japan mini-series
Earlier this year, the Fab Five travelled to Japan to film a four-episode mini-series.
In a statement about the mini-series, titled Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!, Netflix described the episodes as a moment of cultural exchange in which the Fab Five will bring their expertise to Japan and, in turn, experience the country’s cuisine, fashion, design, grooming and culture firsthand while working with local tastemakers in Tokyo.
The online streaming platform has not disclosed a date for Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!, but it indicated it will be available for streaming in 2019.
Queer Eye Season 3 will be available on Netflix starting March 15.