We Are Family Podcast Season 2, Episode 6 with Tan France: What He Feared Most on Becoming a Father
Designer, stylist on Netflix's Queer Eye, and new dad, Tan France chats with Parents Digital Content Director Julia Dennison about his strict childhood, journey to parenthood, what surrogacy is really like, and what he wants most for his son, Ismail France, who was born seven weeks early.
"My hope is that Ismail will continue to be healthy," says France. "It's something that plagues me constantly and I know that that's the case with every parent ... I pray for it 1,000 times a day. But that we continue to have the children that we want and that we raise kind, good children that are not ... That are a counterbalance to so much of the hate that we see in the world. That's not meant to be Queer Eye fluff talk. That really is it. I want my children to be kind and respectful, and to be a space of love in the world because, yeah, there's so much discourse in the world."
Check out Episode 6 now for more with Tan France!
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Tan France: Hello everyone, my name is Tan France and to me family is my entire world, always has been, always will be. And now possibly even more so.
Julia Dennison: Hello and welcome to We Are Family. I'm here with designer and author Tan France. You will know him as part of the Fab Five. He is, of course, the fashion expert on Queer Eye and he's now a dad to a newborn baby boy with his husband, Rob. Tan, welcome to We Are Family.
Tan: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
Julia: And we're so thrilled to welcome you to the club of parenthood. So tell me about your son.
Tan: So my son, his name is Ismail France. He is, in my opinion, a very, very, very special boy. We love him so much. Shall I just start from the start and tell you what the heck happened when we had our baby?
Julia: I want to hear the whole story, because I know that he spent a few weeks in the NICU...
Tan: He did.
Julia: ...and I would love to hear the full story there.
Tan: Yeah, sure. So my husband and I were expecting our child on August 28. We went on a babymoon to Iceland, what would have been eight and a half weeks before his due date. So we thought, "Oh we're being totally safe, careful. Like, there's no way he's coming this early." And then I was going to London directly from Iceland for work, and my husband was potentially going to come to London, but I said, "Just go back home to our home in Salt Lake and just be there just in case. God forbid the baby were to come early I don't want to risk having you in London for two weeks with me." Literally a day later I got the call. I was still very much out of it, I was really jet lagged, it was very early. And he said, "Oh my gosh, he's here, Tan." "Wait, who's here, Rob?" And he said, "Your son is here." And I was like, "Your son here, what do you mean?" Anyway, I cried so hard, because...
Julia: Oh my goodness.
Tan: ...I knew how early it was, obviously, because I was counting out the days so I knew we were just over seven weeks early and so I cried really hard. I was like, "Oh my god, how is he? What's wrong? He's so early there must be something wrong." And Rob said, "I don't know. I haven't seen him." And I was like, "What on Earth are you talking about you haven't seen him?" And he said, "I'm literally pulling up to the hospital now. She just had him a few minutes ago." I was like, "Wait, why did it take you so long to get there?" And he said, "It didn't. It took her 30 minutes from the time she started her labor to get into hospital, he was out. She didn't even have time to put a hospital gown on."
Julia: Oh my God, you're joking!
Tan: That's how quickly it happened. I know. And so we don't live close...
Tan: ...to the hospital that she was going to. We live actually quite far away, a couple of hours away, and so he hadn't seen her yet. So I was crying, he was crying. We didn't know what was wrong. It was obviously really, really, really stressful. But I was...
Julia: Yeah, of course.
Tan: ...thousands of miles away and I knew it was going to take me at least a day or so to get home. Anyway, so he got to the hospital, realized that he was well. He FaceTimed me, but it just looked really scary. I couldn't stop crying, because it looked terrifying. He had loads of tubes coming out of him. This oxygen mask thing on him. And he was...
Julia: Oh, they're so little too.
Tan: So little. He was 3.4 pounds. Like, he was tiny.
Julia: Oh, peanut!
Tan: I know. God it killed me. Thankfully I was with my family.
Julia: Oh thank goodness.
Tan: So I was with my sister and my mom, and we were all very emotional trying to figure out what was happening. And then it was just a fight to get home. Took me two days to get home...
Julia: Oh my God, you must have just felt like, "Can I teleport myself right now?"
Tan: I know.
Julia: Like that feeling of feeling so far away.
Tan: I felt physically sick. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't think of anything. I was consumed with thoughts of him and Rob, and I was just so glad that Rob was here with him. Gosh, if Rob had been in London also it would have killed me to think of him being alone.
Julia: Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness.
Tan: So yeah. Anyway, I made it home two days later...
Julia: And you went straight to the hospital?
Tan: I went straight to the hospital, yeah. Actually, I tell ... I went to the hotel next to the hospital to shower. I didn't want to have airplane on me when I went to see him. And I desperately wanted to do skin to skin.
So I knew I needed to shower before I got there. But showered, didn't care about doing my hair, I wore a hat, didn't care about what I was wearing. I wore sweats, it didn't matter. Then I went to be with my boy. We were at the hospital every day for at least seven, eight hours a day for the next three weeks. It was beautiful bonding time, it really was. It was actually interesting learning how to manage a baby. Don't get me wrong, I would not wish the NICU on anyone's baby because it's so stressful. But having that support of showing you what he needs, how often to feed them, what their cues mean, that actually was really helpful. So by the time we got him home two and a half weeks ago we felt like we had it, like no concern. That is the case. It felt like, "How are people just taking babies home without knowing how to raise them?"
Julia: And leaving. That's a really good point. It's like NICU or not there does feel like there needs to be a little bit more support with new parents because it can feel that way. I felt that way about… I had a C-section, so I got an extra couple days, when you have a C-section, and it was a similar thing. Like it was an emergency C-section, panic, but I was grateful to have that little bit of extra time in the hospital.
Tan: Yeah. Well in England ... I don't think this is the case in America but in England if you have a ... And I've got air quotes up, a natural, regular labor birth you can go home a couple of hours later. I think how are you sending these poor women home?
Julia: I know, yes.
Tan: And not preparing them for ... Just at least give them a day or so where you help them understand...
Julia: I know.
Tan: ...what this looks like, how to change that diaper, how to properly burp them, like all those things. It's important. Really important. And I'm married to a pediatric nurse and he still even learnt some stuff, so it was really important for us. Really important for us to have that extra help, just because he needs a little more support because he's still so preemie he needs some support. Yeah, learning from them was invaluable.
Julia: Yeah. So what's it been like now that you're all home together as a family?
Tan: Gorgeous. The daytimes are beautiful. Sometimes difficult, but beautiful. Obviously Rob and I are two men, and so we don't have the traditional dynamic of man and woman, therefore mom is more responsible for baby. And I'm not saying that I agree with that, I'm saying that that is traditionally how men...
Julia: Right, those constructs are not there to kind of fall back on, even accidentally.
Tan: Yeah. Even if you have the most...
Julia: That's interesting.
Tan: ...forward-thinking man, I think the expectation is the primary caregiver is the mom. Whereas, obviously, we don't have that at all and so we are both very actively responsible, equally responsible, for our child. So that makes it a little easier. And so managing him...
Julia: Yeah. That's a really good point.
Tan: Yeah. Managing him in the daytime is actually quite manageable. Ordinarily we manage to get ourselves together, shower, we get to go to the gym. We cook a meal every day. Not to pat ourselves too much on the backs, I think we're doing a decent job of managing regular life and new baby life. Nights are hard.
Tan: Nights are getting easier, but they are still very hard. Those first couple of nights were really difficult. That first night we woke up every hour or so because we had him in our bedroom right next to our bed, on my side, and every little noise I would wake up.
Julia: Oh yes, I remember that.
Tan: I couldn't help it. He makes this sound ."ahh ahh ahh" .. Constantly. It's him trying to poop, or fart, or whatever.
Julia: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that sound.
Tan: It's constant. So even if he's not crying to be fed or changed he's still making a lot of sounds and so...
Julia: Yeah. Then you're up in a flash kind of like, "What's going on?"
Tan: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that was the first couple of days. Then I was having ... Well actually both us were having a really hard time in the daytime because nighttime was so hard we were just out of it. So we have a bedroom directly across from our room, so instead of him being right next to the bed we leave our door open and his door ajar.
Tan: So now his bed is in there, or his crib is in there, and so we can't hear every ... We hear when he starts to whimper to wake up but we can't hear all the 'ahh ahh ahh" ...
Julia: Yeah, but I mean, if that's...
Tan: That's made it easier.
Julia: Right. That allows you to get a little bit more sleep, because I remember that feeling too. I'd wake up and check that my daughter was breathing, it's like that anxiety of new parenthood is real.
Tan: What has been beautiful is the support from my friends or people who haven't been my close friends, just people I know, who've recently had babies and now they've become friends because we're all kind of going through it together. There's so many people, as I'm sure you know, within the last year and a half have had their COVID babies. We are one of them. All of us had had them within the same six month-ish period.
Julia: Oh wow.
Tan: So having that support from all of these incredible women—they have been able to offer me invaluable tips. I, in turn, have been able to give them advice on the kind of things that might help them. So it's created this sense of community that I never expected. Of all the things I expected of being a parent, solidifying greater bonds with other parents was not one of them.
Julia: Mm-hmm. Totally. No, I remember that. And like a whole new set of friends and support network, and family really. Found family and everything, so that's wonderful.
Julia: Have you and Rob gotten a sense of what kind of dads that you feel like you are?
Tan: I've always known the kind of dad I was going to be, quite honestly. So here's what we expected our roles would be. I'm very South Asian. Very, very, very South Asian. I mean, I'm very westernized also but I lived a very traditional upbringing and I can't remove myself from that, which means that we really instill discipline in our children. I expect that I will expect that of my child. We're usually stricter parents, I definitely will be the strict parent. I hope that I will have a wonderful relationship with my child but I know I will be more strict and Rob will definitely be the sweet, "Yes of course my dear"...
Julia: The good pop.
Tan: Mm-hmm. Yeah. He will always be, I think, the very sweet one that the kids will go to when they want something that I won't give them.
Julia: Oh that's amazing. That's amazing. I think it's so interesting, the point you bring up about that balance, because we talk often at Parents about the mental load that moms will often feel like they have to do the majority of parenthood, parenting rather, even when they have a dad who's very willing and able. I feel like so much of this imbalance starts right at the very beginning from day one. I think it's interesting because you've partnered with Bobbie, a formula company, to try and help change that conversation around how people feed their babies. I think that's sort of part of that larger conversation, too. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?
Tan: Yeah. So our surrogate wasn't able to pump for us and we didn't want to use donor milk. We did a lot of research into donor milk and for us it just wasn't right for us. I'm a formula baby, a couple of my siblings are, my husband's a formula baby, and I feel like I turned out just fine.
Julia: I always say that they're going to grow up and eat Hot Cheetos anyway, so...
Julia: ...why do we obsess over this?
Tan: Absolutely. So obviously I'm in a very interesting position, where when we say that we're having a baby a lot of people have an opinion on how we're having a baby and how we will feed our baby.
I want to make it clear to everyone listening, I 100 percent believe that breast milk is the gold standard, so does Bobbie. We all understand that. If I could breastfeed my child 100 percent I would. I can't, therefore I need to not be shamed for that.
Tan: So I posted about it and I got 17,000 DMs that day and almost every one was filled with such venom, such venom.
Julia: You're kidding?
Tan: I think it's because I think they were misunderstanding what I was trying to say with my participation in this campaign. I wasn't saying we don't need to support the moms who are wanting to breastfeed, of course they should be given every support they need. We also need to not shame the people who cannot breastfeed their child or give their children breast milk and have to formula feed, or choose to formula feed...
Julia: Totally. And choose to, like you don't even ... It's like if you want to do it do it, you know?
Tan: Do it. And so reading the comments on my post. There was a lot of hate, absolutely a lot of hate, but there was also ... It didn't bother me because there was also so much love between women, between moms, on these comments who were saying ... One of them would say, "I felt such guilt. I struggled with this for so many years." Then other women would comment such beautiful support. There are thousands of comments under that post. If ever you just want to feel like there's some good in the world and that...
Julia: I love that.
Tan: ... there is some positivity between moms please just look through those DMs, it's actually quite beautiful.
Julia: Well that's wonderful. And I'm so sorry you had to put up with all of that venom and hate. That is just so unfair.
Tan: That's OK, it's expected.
Julia: Well and then also not just with how you're feeding your baby but also around surrogacy. I think you've said before that you wish that people understood surrogacy a little bit better than they seem to on Instagram and some of those comments.
Julia: What do you want the world to know about your process, and surrogacy in general, and the whole...
Tan: Well Julia you made a really ... Part of your question was really important, and not to be condescending, you probably didn't realize why. What would I want the world to know? The reason why I'm emphasizing the word world is because it seemed the majority of the nasty, nasty comments I get are from people outside of the U.S. who maybe...
Julia: Oh interesting.
Tan: ... have a very different understanding of what surrogacy is. I mean, obviously America's America, there's always going to be a lot of angry people and so we got a lot of Americans too, but the majority of the people were from outside of our country.
Tan: Well by the comments I know what they think. They believe that I've taken a woman off the street, tied her to my basement radiator, raped her, and then kept her in there until she will have my baby.
Julia: Oh good Lord.
Tan: That definitely isn't the case. I did not exploit a poor woman who...
Julia: Sorry, I can't laugh but like...
Tan: No, it is, it's ludicrous!
Julia: ...oh my God it's just bonkers!
Tan: It's ludicrous.
Julia: Oh my gosh.
Tan: Yeah. The amount of comments that were saying this is disgusting what I'm doing with this poor woman whom I'm exploiting, I'm using her body...
Julia: Oh my God.
Tan: I just think this woman wanted to be my surrogate. She didn't need the money. She's already got her own children, she doesn't want more children. She started out being a surrogate for her family member who couldn't have a child and saw the absolute joy it brought this person, and then wanted to do it for more people. Wanted to give them the greatest gift in the world. We treated her beautifully.
Julia: Of course. Oh, I mean, I do not doubt it. It sounds like such a wonderful relationship that you have with her.
Tan: Lovely relationship. I just think there's so much confusion about what the process is. There's a surrogacy agency that we use, there are many across America. This one worked well for us because they worked with gay couples a lot and they could make sure that when we have our baby that there's enough legal paperwork done to make sure that Rob doesn't have to adopt my son. Our son is my biological child, so Rob wouldn't have to adopt, he just is the father from day one on the birth certificate. So all those things we researched.
Julia: How did you find your surrogate? Talk us through a little bit about how that process happened.
Tan: Yeah. So we went through our donor agency and we loved our donor agency. They are the Idaho Reproductive Center and we loved them. We got a recommendation from somebody else who had used them and had a wonderful experience. So we started working with this donor center. They recommended our surrogacy agency, which is called Host of Possibilities. And they said, very clearly, "There are many surrogacy agencies out there. They are not all the same. Your experience is very different with your surrogate depending on which agency you go with." So we found this surrogacy agency and we told her what we were looking for. We were looking for somebody who wasn't doing it for the money, who had done it before, who can tell us why they're doing it, who we'll have a few meetings with to make sure this is the right person, they're living the life we want them to live. So they don't drink, they don't smoke. Rob and I are ... Well I'm a slim ... I don't drink, I don't smoke, neither does Rob. We wanted a life that was conducive to ours, somebody who we knew would take really good care of our baby because they are basically the nanny before our baby's born. They're the person who's taking the best care of...
Julia: Right, you're entrusting them with care for your child, honestly.
Tan: Yeah. So we went through the process of trying to explain what we wanted and then the agency whittling it down to a few. Then working with this one person in particular who we know through people we know, so we know this person's a good, kind, lovely, lovely, lovely woman. We interviewed a few times, we spoke, we really got to know each other, what our expectations were. The funny thing is my biggest concern, Rob's biggest concern, when we met with the agency was what if they try and keep our baby? That's my biggest, biggest concern. That is our biological child, not the surrogate's. They are the person who's carrying the child for us but they don't have a legal right to that baby. And actually I want to talk about that in just a second and explain how that works but...
Julia: Yeah, of course.
Tan: ...our biggest concern was that this person might decide that they're going to keep the baby.
Tan: The funny thing is the surrogacy agency owner said that's the main thing people ask and it's the first thing that surrogates say when they sign on, "Please make sure that whatever legal paperwork is done it's clear that we don't want any more children of our own. We've got our own children, we just want to help somebody else. We cannot be stuck with another baby. This is not our baby."
Julia: Right, right.
Tan: So it was funny to know that both of us were concerned about the thing that wasn't true for either of us.
Julia: Right, right, right.
Tan: I didn't want her to keep our baby, she didn't want to keep our baby.
Julia: Yes! Right.
Tan: She just wanted to help!
Julia: That's lovely.
Tan: Anyway, so the important component here, which again I don't think people understand when they say, "Well how does the mother feel," the surrogate isn't technically the mother. The term is gestational carrier. She carried our baby for us but the egg donor is anonymous. We work with a donor agency to find the kind of donor we want. This is not a designer baby. It is basically like IVF.
Tan: For us, all we wanted was somebody that looked like they could be part of Rob's family. They're from a ranch in Wyoming. We didn't look for somebody who was super tall and had this eye color. None of that really mattered. We just wanted it to seem like this person could have been a part of our family and that's what we got. Yeah, the mother is not the ... The term mother doesn't quite work for this situation.
Julia: Right. Gestational carrier, that's the phrase.
Julia: Yeah, OK. It's interesting. It's a whole kind of like new language and glossary that you have to learn these terms, and everything, but...
Tan: I'm never upset when somebody asks, "How is the mother doing?" I assume that they're referring to our surrogate but yeah, she's technically not the mother. The reason why we separate it out is then nobody has a legal right to our baby because if ... Let's say, for example, the surrogate also was the egg donor that is also her child at that point, mine and her child. But when we have a surrogate and a separate egg donor neither of them are technically the mother.
Julia: Right, got it.
Tan: So they have no legal right to take my child away.
Julia: Of course. Right, right, right. That's very ... Must have felt very reassuring when you had that kind of explained...
Tan: Yes, very reassuring. That was my biggest concern, what if somebody one day decided that they wanted custody of our baby?
Julia: Right. right.
Tan: And nobody ... I mean, women release eggs every month, or many women release eggs every month, for our donor it's just a case of she had eggs that she donated but she never had her baby.
So you're very close with your sister?
Julia: How did your family, and how did Rob's family, react to the whole surrogacy process? How's that been, in terms of your wider families?
Tan: Wonderfully. Rob's family it was a little easier because they understand Western culture, so they know what surrogacy is. For my family they ... Well, no, my sister absolutely understood, so did my brothers. My mom had never heard of it. So my mom's first language is not English and she doesn't watch Western TV at ... She's never seen my show. She doesn't watch Western TV at all and they don't talk about surrogacy in Bollywood, so she had no idea what I was talking about. So it was a process trying to explain, "OK, so this is how it works." She said, "Well is the mother going to have regular contact?" "No, there's no mother in the traditional sense." So that kind of conversation was difficult. I mean, she couldn't be happier. She's so excited. I FaceTime her, not every day. I FaceTime her maybe twice a week just so she can see him. But they've been amazing. Considering how traditional my family is it has been interesting seeing just how novel it seemed to them and how accepting, and loving, they've been. Weirdly they're more excited about him than I've ever seen them be about any of my nieces and nephews.
Julia: That's so sweet.
Tan: I think it's because they're not here.
Tan: Like we're usually so ingratiated in each other's lives. We all live ... Well when I was in England we all lived within the same block and we used to see each other every day, and we were our own social circle. We're really close with all of our cousins. There's usually at least 20 people in our home at any given moment.
Tan: So our families are so, so close. We truly believe in the village raising your children.
Julia: Oh yeah.
Tan: So I think that because I'm the only one who's ever left home I think that they just want to make sure that I still feel their love and support...
Julia: Like a part of that village.
Julia: Do you kind of wish that you did have them down the block from you?
Tan: Of course. Of course.
Julia: I mean, I can only imagine having that actual village would be...
Tan: Yeah. I actually wanted to bring out a few of them to ... Not to help raise him, just to feel like I have my family here. That's a luxury that everyone else in my family has experienced, all my nieces and nephews, and I wanted that. Normally we ... We call it the 40-day period, so the first 40 days the family who's had the baby usually goes and lives with their parents for 40 days to really get used to life as a parent, to get some support. So I wanted to bring my family out, my sister, my mom, my sister-in-laws, and my brothers but because of COVID they can't come to the U.S.
Julia: Right. Right. So can you talk a little bit about your own childhood and how you see that influencing your...
Tan: How we ...
Julia: ...experience as a father, and how you want to raise your son and everything?
Tan: Yeah. My childhood was lovely but strict. ... The only way I can really explain it is the difference between my family and Rob's family. So Rob's family living on a farm ... And I know this isn't the white experience in totality but his experience on a farm in Wyoming, or ranch in Wyoming. He's got a lot of siblings, he's got seven siblings. They were rambunctious; they would play whenever they wanted; they would do whatever they wanted; they would eat whatever they wanted. There were multiple meals available, you could choose from those, if you didn't want your dinner ... I mean, I'm not trying to denigrate them. That's just the way they lived. "If you don't want dinner it's fine, here's cereal," or, "Here's this other thing."
In my culture mom made one curry. "You will eat that thing for dinner." The discipline of when you are around adults ... Not from a very, very early age but from the age of like 4, 5, 6, we absolutely encourage creative play, play. But when adults are there, when guests are there, you will sit down and behave yourself or you will go into another room and play but you will not be disruptive or disrespectful in front of elders. You will never, ever ... There's no such thing as a clapback or backchat, whatever you call it. That literally never happened. I've never seen it happen in my family. It would never happen and it would be shocking if it did. Whereas, I see that with my friends and their kids. I'm like, "Oh my God, I've never seen that happen in my world."
Julia: Yeah. Yeah. Wow.
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Tan: I've never raised my voice to my parents or even my elder siblings. The hierarchy of siblings is also really important. Your siblings who are older than you you do not argue with them, you do not fight with them. They are your elders. So that culture I love, I love very much. And making sure that all of the children together ... We want to have multiple children. That they understand that yes you can have all the friends in the world but your priority is your siblings, your family. That I love very much. You will take care of your parents when your parents get old. That is...
Julia: Right. Again, that village right? That sort of...
Tan: Yes! Yes, really important.
Julia: I feel like in America, Western culture, we get sort of siloed in our little nuclear families without helping out the other generations.
Tan: Yes. And disciplining within family. I mean, I've absolutely disciplined my nieces and nephews. And if my niece or ... Sorry, my son did something inappropriate or disrespectful to my siblings and they didn't discipline him I would be so angry at them. That it's just as much their responsibility to raise my child as it is mine. That's just our culture. But whereas with Rob's family it's very different. Rob would never, ever dream of disciplining his nieces or nephews. That's not a thing done here. So those kind of things are really important. That's what my childhood was. I was raised by my aunts and uncles, and my parents. My mom worked every other ... God sent. My parents were immigrants, so my siblings helped raised me. So my sister's almost like an aunt or a mother figure. She's 10 years older than me. Then also the culture aspect of food and language, that is so important to me. I was raised on only Indian and Pakistani food. Pakistan and India used to be the same country, so we have pretty much the same food. Yeah, I was raised on Indian food. That was my first food. We would have what my mom had called English food every few weeks, which wasn't ever English food. It was like pizza, or Chinese, or something like that but she didn't know the word for the other countries so she just used to call it English food.
That's what I want for our child. Rob, thankfully, appreciates and respects all of it. He's been around my family so much, he's seen how well-behaved these kids are and how respectful they are, he's like, "I want them to be raised this way." And so I want to teach my children about my food. We want his first two languages to be Urdu-Hindi and English, and they're languages that I spoke as my first languages. So those things are really important to me. I want my child to feel as Asian as possible, even though he's going to be raised in a very white world here because I don't have family or community here. Salt Lake I don't know any other South Asians. I mean, there are bound to be some but I don't know them personally. And so all those things that were really important to me, family and culture, I need to instill into my child. Thankfully I have a husband who loves my culture and wants our child to have that also.
Julia: So is that affecting ... Or how are you thinking about it when you're thinking about raising Ismail? Are you thinking about the language you use and about the books you read, things like that?
Tan: Yeah. I mean, obviously ... This is not meant to sound condescending, obviously they will understand the gay world because they're going to be raised by two gay parents.
Julia: Of course.
Tan: So we will have books about gay parents or gay families. However, it's going to be interesting to really make them understand the straight family. I thought, "We need more books on what straight families look like and what a mom means to certain people."
Julia: It's almost like you need to prepare him for the questions that other people might ask.
Tan: However, my only reference point for this is this—being raised in a Pakistani household, in a Muslim household, a very, very strict community I had to understand the greater world outside of my immediate community and I had to respect them for who they were. So I got to know white people, I got to know what white culture was, I got to know what other cultures were within my local community. I think that there's a way of doing it which makes it so matter of fact.
I don't know if you've ever been to Utah but Utah is quite white and so all of our friend group here, actually most of our friend group here, is white. So they will understand what just white, only white families are as opposed to mixed race families or interracial families. They will understand what straight families are because most of our friends are straight. So I just think they're going to have exposure to these families constantly. They're just going to understand that our family looks a little bit different, but they also will know other gay parents with their children.
So I think as long as you expose them to it at a very, very, very young age, which we will, they won't ever know any different. They'll just know that families come in different colors, and different makeups, and that's just the way it is. I think if you really belabor the point and really call it out as, "Well you don't have a this. You don't have a mom. You don't have this, our family's different this way," I think that it's all the way it's communicated. For me it's just exposure to those people.
We've talked about this in the greater world, over the last year in particular, how diverse is your friend group? So that you understand other cultures and that you take care of some of that racism you might have. That's also important within our world as gay parents to expose them to other people so they understand that, from day one, they always knew what other families look like. It wasn't just that we were the only version and we were the right version or the wrong version.
Julia: Absolutely. So Tan I feel like I could talk to you for so long, this has been so wonderful.
Julia: Thanks for chatting with us. To sort of end it all, what are your hopes and dreams for your family for the next year?
Tan: My hope is that Ismail will continue to be healthy. It's something that plagues me constantly and I know that that's the case with every parent, is that I just need him to be healthy and I pray for it 1,000 times a day. But that we continue to have the children that we want and that we raise kind, good children that are not ... That are a counterbalance to so much of the hate that we see in the world. That's not meant to be the Queer Eye fluff talk. That really is it. I want my children to be kind and respectful, and to be a space of love in the world because, yeah, there's so much discourse in the world.
Julia: Yeah. Oh I love that. What a great way to end. Tan, thank you so much for coming on We Are Family. This has just been such a wonderful chat. I appreciate...
Tan: Thank you so much.
Julia: ...you so very much.
Tan: Of course...
Julia: And much love to your family and good luck with new fatherhood.
Tan: Thank you. Thank you.
Julia: Thanks for listening to my conversation with the wonderful Tan France. I must tell you, despite being just weeks into fatherhood, he still looked utterly stylish!
Come back next week when we will be talking to broadcaster and author Anna Sale about how she discovered what she calls her "parent personality" after becoming a mom and how a United States senator ended up playing matchmaker for Anna and her husband Arthur.
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We Are Family is presented by me, Julia Dennison, and produced by Sam Walker. Editing is by Vincent Cacchione, and thanks also to the rest of our production team at Pod People, Rachel King, Matt Sav, and Danielle Roth.
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