“Queer Eye” star Tan France says being part of the Fab Five has put him “in a unique place” to help people understand the LGBTQ community.
In a new interview with ShortList, France ― who was raised in England and is of Pakistani descent ― gets candid about the challenges of coming out as a gay man of color. The fashion guru has been married to illustrator Rob France for 10 years, but he said he only came out as gay to one of his siblings earlier this year, before the “Queer Eye” reboot became a Netflix smash.
“Sexuality can be difficult to articulate and we have to be patient and compassionate,” France said. “Gay men can sometimes feel ashamed or chastised when the messaging is ‘Be out and proud!’ or ‘Just come out.’ It’s not that easy. It certainly wasn’t for me.”
France said his unusual, multicultural background made him “confident” that he was a good fit for the show. The experience has taught him a lot, too ― such as giving him the opportunity to have a heart-to-heart talk with a transgender person for the first time.
Still, France has had to face plenty of discrimination along the way.
“I want people to understand way more about me than the fact I like to sleep with my husband,” he said. “But being brown and gay made coming out harder. If I were Caucasian, I would have found the process easier. I have to battle so many issues, and the biggest is racism.”
He said the struggle has been worth it in terms of breaking barriers on television, adding that he has received a lot of fan mail from viewers in the Middle East and Africa.
“Being ‘out and proud’ can feel like a real luxury of Western culture, where people are often white and see existing white gay people in their culture,” he said. “That’s a kind of privilege people don’t know they possess.”
Head here to read the full ShortList interview with France.