Ellen Page and Ian Daniel school us in global queer culture on “Gaycation”


Ellen Page has been friends with Ian Daniel for years.

“His hair used to be down to here,” she says, signaling past her shoulders. “One time we did a duet—I was dressed as Kurt Cobain, and he was Courtney, and we did ‘Doll Parts’ together,” Ellen says at the beginning of our interview. 

Together, Ellen and Ian are traveling different parts of the world in their new series Gaycation, discovering what life is like for LGBT people all over the globe. Premiering on Viceland on March 2nd (though it premiered early online so you can watch now), the docuseries takes the co-hosts to Japan, Jamaica and Brazil to meet the people who make up their country’s queer populations. From visiting an underground lesbian bar or celebrating an unofficial Pride to more dangerous situations where their safety is in question, Ellen and Ian are the kind of travel guides who want to experience it all, and through them, viewers are privy to realities that aren’t as prevalent for us in regular depictions of gay life and culture.

But there’s an American episode, too, one that includes Ellen’s infamous run-in with Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz during an Iowa BBQ when he didn’t take so kindly to her questions about protections for LGBT people in the States. But what he didn’t realize is that Ellen and Ian have seen firsthand what it’s like when world leaders and local government keep basic rights from our community and remind us, in true VICE fashion, that the same kind of persecution is not so far from our own history.

We talked with Ellen and Ian at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in January. 

2016 Winter TCA PortraitsPhotos by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images

AfterEllen.com: What did you find in terms of how things were different for gay women vs. gay men? Was it different in every country?

Ellen Page: It depends on the country, absolutely. So we were in one country where I would say the consensus was if you were a man and you were gay, and you were slightly effeminate and middle class or lower, your life is going to be incredibly, incredibly difficult. Is it still difficult for a woman, particularly a butch woman? Absolutely. Maybe not to necessarily the degree—but that seemed to be the consensus for men and women, whereas other places it was harder for women because it’s a certain culture that might be a bit more difficult to be women to begin with, so if you add the lesbian or the bi component on top of that, it’s gonna be even more difficult for you.It definitely depended on the country but typically the consensus was it’s interesting; it was always—I never found, whether male or female, I never found someone who seemed to separate—do you know what I mean?

ID: I think in the newer cut of Japan episode, they added more. So I was learning from your experience—

EP: Because you weren’t there. [Note: Men were not allowed into the all women’s bar in Japan]

ID: Because I wasn’t there, so I wasn’t thinking, “Oh there are hundreds of bars for gay men—

EP: And there’s like five for women.

ID: —and there’s like a few for women. And that really hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I don’t know. I was just reflecting on that notion even happening in America. I think we have a lot of gay bars—

EP: All of the lesbian bars are shutting down.

AE: We’re losing them!

ID: Right, they’re getting shut down. So what is that about?

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