It’s chillingly ironic that the finale of Gaycation, which looks at LGBTQ life in the US, aired on the same night that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill into law that strips away any local protections for the LGBTQ community. In a sad, desperate attempt to stay the turning tide of understanding and equality, North Carolina has taken steps to make queer and trans Carolinians, second class citizens. It’s vile, and it’s frightening, and it’s happening.
If you follow me on Twitter (@danapiccoli, plug!), then you probably know that my wife and I are leaving NYC and moving to South Carolina for her job. Now, the people we’ve met in SC have been nothing but wonderful and kind, but this news out of NC has really shaken me.
Like Ellen and Ian, I live in a place where being queer is not a big deal. I’ve always sympathized with my friends who live in places like the Bible Belt, but until I was about to move there myself, the actual magnitude of what it’s like to feel not equal and even despised, didn’t really hit me. I’m embarrassed about this fact. I have taken so much for granted. This episode of Gaycation spoke to me on a cellular level. Until we are all free to exist and live and love and—god forbid—pee in a public restroom, none of us are truly free.
Before heading to the US, Ellen and Ian head to Saskatchewan, Canada to meet with Two-Spirit members of the First Nations. They meet with Steven, who is Two-Spirit, and explains how Two Spirit is a welcoming term for any members who fall under the LGBTQ heading. Gayle, who is also Two-Spirit, tells Ian and Ellen how growing up, you just lived how you wanted to live. For Rocky, who was crowned Miss Montana Two-Spirit, it’s about having both male and female spirits inside of you, plain and simple.
Ellen and Ian are invited to participate in a Pow Wow, where they dance and celebrate the Two-Spirit community. Ellen tells us how before colonization, Two-Spirit members were considered healers and blessed individuals. When discussing how some people think that queerness and being trans are western constructs, Ellen makes a very good point. “The only western construct is only homophobia. That’s what we brought.”
The show then travels to New York Pride which was held just days after same-sex marriage was legalized across the US. It’s a beautifully happy day, and Ellen gets lots of hugs and kudos for her brave coming out the year before.
The duo meet up with Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a data analyst who is currently analyzing data about the LGBT population in the US. Basically, his findings suggest that there are still many places where queer people are not comfortable being open about their sexuality.