Tan France on ‘huge pressure’ as gay Asian immigrant in the spotlight
The makeover show’s fashion expert said he is also constantly reminded he is ‘other’ from his Queer Eye co-stars.
Queer Eye’s Tan France has said he feels “huge amounts of pressure” to tell his story as a gay Asian immigrant with a global platform.
France, the Netflix life overhaul programme’s fashion expert, also said that he is constantly reminded that he is different and that he is “other” from his co-stars because of his ethnicity and background.
The fashion designer-turned-TV star was born in South Yorkshire to Pakistani immigrants and has now found fame on a global scale on the American TV makeover series.
France said it felt like a responsibility to tell a story for all of the “marginalised” communities within which he falls in his new memoir Naturally Tan, and that he wanted to talk about things that “many people probably have never heard before”.
When a story is written about me, it will always start ‘Pakistani, immigrant, Tan France’ – it will never say that about Antoni (Porowski) or Bobby (Berk), it’s just their name
France told PA: “It’s hard when you’re doing a reality show because you never know which parts are going to be used and how it’s going to be edited, so I wanted to take an opportunity to write my book where nobody gets to tell me how this message is conveyed, and I also felt it was my responsibility.
“I’m in a very privileged position; I’m one of the first within my community to have a platform like this, a global platform like this, so I wanted to take the opportunity to tell the story of a person like me, who represents and is a member of many different marginalised communities, and so I wanted to tell a story that many people probably have never heard before.”
He said: “I would never profess to represent an entire community, but I represent a certain version of each of the communities that I fall within, and it adds on a huge amount of pressure.
“It’s actually one of the main reasons that I didn’t want to do Queer Eye initially, and I was scared to do Queer Eye because I don’t want people to assume that when I say something, all Asians think this, or all gay people think this, or all immigrants think this, and that unfortunately is the way the media often sees it.
“When a story is written about me, it will always start ‘Pakistani, immigrant, Tan France’ – it will never say that about Antoni (Porowski) or Bobby (Berk), it’s just their name.
“So it reminds me constantly that I am different, that I am other, and that when I speak, people assume that I speak for a whole demographic, and that can’t possibly be the case.”
France, 36, said he hopes that people from outside of his own community have “empathy and an understanding of what it is to be a person of colour, or a person within the LGBQT community, or an immigrant” when reading his book.
He said that, for people within those communities, he hopes he can make them “feel slightly less alone and understood and heard”.
Queer Eye returns to the streaming platform for a fourth series later this month.
The show features resident fashion expert France along with food guru Porowski, home designer Berk, hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness and culture expert Karamo Brown.
The Emmy-winning show is a reboot of the 2003 series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.
– Naturally Tan by Tan France is published in hardback by Virgin Books, priced £16.99. Available now.