‘Queer Eye’: Why Tan France Was So Anxious He Couldn’t Sleep for the First Few Weeks of Filming

Tan France serves as the fashion expert on Netflix’s Queer Eye. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know France always has it all together: the look, the vibe, and duh, that fresh ‘do. France can smooth out a crease on a French-tucked shirt while calmly guiding his makeover subject through a clothing crisis, without losing his chill (or his fresh look). However, no one can be that cool all of the time. France admitted in a recent radio interview that he dealt with intense anxiety in the first few weeks of filming the Netflix reality show.

Tan France’s reaction to being cast on ‘Queer Eye’

France was a guest on Terry Gross’s NPR show, Fresh Air in September. He told the host how he reacted to getting cast on Netflix’s Queer Eye.

Cast of Queer Eye
The cast of Queer Eye: Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

“I screamed,” he said. “I didn’t think I could do it.” The style expert said he was terrified. France was raised in England by his parents, Pakistani Muslim immigrants. He knew how big a deal it was.

“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,” he said.

In the age of streaming, the new Netflix show was a lot of pressure for France

France says of Queer Eye, he “knew it was going to be a major show.” He could see that Netflix had a “global marketing strategy.” The whole cast was aware Queer Eye would be pretty huge, France explained. That just made it scarier.

The cast of Queer Eye
Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Jonathan Van Ness | Randy Holmes via Getty Images

“The pressure of being one of the first to do something is massively stressful and difficult and anxiety-inducing,” he continued. All of this put a lot of stress on the brand new television personality to represent his community well. It was so bad, France said, it “kept [him] up at night everyday … for the first few weeks of filming the show.”

“I was wracked with anxiety and guilt thinking I’m about to destroy my community or the perception of my community,” he told Gross. With so few Muslims, and especially gay Muslims, represented in popular media, the weight of that burden felt heavy on his shoulders.

“I may not portray them in a way that they may be happy to be portrayed,” he said he worried at the time. He didn’t want anyone to think, “‘this is not a true representation of our culture.”

Tan France worried most about his family

“I was worried about the people that I know and love being attacked by people within our community,” France continued in the interview.

Members of his community, he told Gross, might be “concerned that my family have a gay man.” And, as France admits, he is very publicly and “very unabashedly gay.” He said that “could be problematic.”

“In our culture, you don’t represent yourself, you represent your family,” France explained. “When you are sinning in their eyes. you’re bringing shame to their community.”

Tan France
Tan France | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

But when Gross asked France if being gay went against his faith, he declined.

“I reconciled that when I was a child,” France said. “Thankfully I had belief in the god that I was raised to believe in. The Queer Eye star says he believed in a god that “was the most peaceful and most loving.”