“Queer Eye” Star Tan France: “Being Brown and Gay Made Coming Out Harder”

"I have to battle so many issues, and the biggest is racism."

Tan France, Queer Eye’s fashion expert, is no stranger to calling out the racism he’s encountered—like the time one of the show’s guests (or “heroes”) asked him if he was a terrorist. In a recent interview with Shortlist, the star is speaking out about the challenge of coming out as a person of color.

“Being brown and gay made coming out harder,” says France. “If I were Caucasian, I would have found the process easier. I have to battle so many issues, and the biggest is racism.”

France, who was born and raised in England to Pakistani parents, says being out can be a privilege of the Western world.

“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. They see themselves reflected, so they feel a sense of acceptance. That’s a kind of privilege people don’t know they possess.”

Despite the challenges he’s faced, the 35-year-old believes his diverse background helps him do his job better and represent for other people not visible in mainstream media.

“My upbringing meant that I was in a unique place to help people on Queer Eye. I’ve had conversations many times in the past 10 years with people who have never met someone like me, from my background. From the start, I felt equipped to do the job, I was confident.”

France continued: “I get so many emails from people in the Middle East or Africa saying, ’Finally we’re seeing someone on our screens that we can relate to!'”

Queer Eye Seasons 2 is out now on Netflix.


Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in Manhattan.