Of Queer Eye’s Fab Five, Tan France is somehow the gayest (that hair) and the least gay (he’d never met a trans person before season two and dresses every makeover subject in khakis and floral print button downs). France has implied on the show many times that he’s not that kind of gay, and thanks to a new interview with The Guardian, we know why.
“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,” France says.
But after studying fashion and marrying his husband Rob, it seemed like time to branch out. Thankfully, the perfect opportunity came along: Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot. France says his husband urged him to audition, if only for the chance to meet other queer men.
“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.’”
And the rest is history. France now not only has four gay besties, he also gets to be a highly visible queer Asian man.
“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.” But that, France adds, comes with its own challenges.
“There is also the pressure of how you are as an Asian man, and how you are perceived and how you should behave,” France explains. “How you are representing yourself as an immigrant in the US—what you need to do to be the best immigrant you can be.”
Despite the weight of representing his culture and judgement for not being gay enough, France says that “only you get to decide how to present yourself to the world. And I get to be the version of gay I want.”
Queer Eye season three debuts on Netflix March 15.