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Film and TV

Tan France nearly turned down Queer Eye because he was worried his family would be ‘attacked’

Lily Wakefield September 12, 2019
Tan France web series dressing funny

Tan France's new web series is called Dressing Funny. (Rich Fury/Getty for GLAAD)

Tan France has revealed that he was close to turning down his part on Queer Eye, fearing that his family and friends would be “attacked”.

France grew up in South Yorkshire to Pakistani parents, and told NPR that the idea of being one of the first openly gay South Asian men on TV was “massively stressful”.

Having been bullied and beaten up since the age of five or six for the colour of his skin, even when no one knew he was gay, made him concerned about how appearing on Queer Eye would affect the people close to him.

He said: “I was worried about the people that I know and love being attacked by people within our community. I wasn’t concerned about what Caucasian people might think of it, necessarily.

“It was what my own people would think of it, that they would be concerned that my family have a gay man who’s very openly gay, very unabashedly gay, so publicly… In our culture you don’t represent yourself; you represent your family.

“And as far as my culture is concerned, when you are… ‘sinning’ in their eyes, you are bringing shame to your community.”

His father passed away before he came out, and he said coming out to his mum was “quite easy”.

He added: “The fact that she had a love marriage [with my father], she [too] had gone against our cultural norms, which back in the day — this was in the 70s — was shocking, absolutely shocking.

“She was probably one of the very few people in her community, if not in her extended family, who would have had a love marriage. And so I think that that probably made it easier for her to understand.”

Queer Eye
Tan France with the rest of the Queer Eye Fab Five. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix)

Tan France eventually agreed to Queer Eye to “change the narrative”.

But he was also concerned about the “pressure” of being perceived as a representative for different communities.

France said: “The thought of being one of the very first openly gay South Asian men on a major show… That pressure was so hard to handle.

“The pressure of being one of the first to do something is massively stressful.”

Eventually, he reconsidered about continuing to audition for Queer Eye, realising the impact he could have.

“I could have an opportunity to change the narrative for my people,” he said.

“And so that’s why I decided to take the actual audition… I’ve got to continue to show that Pakistanis are wonderful people, that we are caring people.”

More: bullying, Fab Five, queer eye, race, Tan France

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