by Diane Daniel, published on March 2, 2016|
Ellen Page, 29, best known for her Oscar-nominated role in “Juno” and recently starring in “Freeheld” with Julianne Moore, has become an advocate for L.G.B.T. rights after coming out as a lesbian in 2014. In the past year, Ms. Page developed and produced the documentary series “Gaycation” with her friend Ian Daniel. The series, created with Vice and the filmmaker Spike Jonze, the creative director of the new Viceland channel, follows Ms. Page and Mr. Daniel as they explore lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups around the world. Following are edited excerpts from a conversation with her.
Q. How did “Gaycation” come to be?
A. Spike Jonze is a good friend, and I was crashing at his place in New York while I was working on a movie. He said, “Hey, we’re making a network, if you have any TV ideas.” The next day I texted my idea to him and then it went really quickly. I’ve always loved travel shows so much.
Were you and Ian experienced travelers?
Myself more than Ian. Because of my job, I’ve had the great fortune of going to lots of different places. But to be honest, I haven’t had much experience as a gay traveler, so that was something new to me. Like when I was going to Tokyo to do press years ago, I wouldn’t be going to the gay district because I was very closeted. I didn’t even know it existed. So getting to experience that was awesome.
The show has a strong advocacy focus. Was that the initial plan?
The core original idea was a travel show, and to focus on L.G.B.T. culture in different places. I’m always excited when I get to watch something that represents the community I’m a part of. But, naturally, advocacy is going to be a part of it. No matter what country you’re in, you’re going to find L.G.B.T. people who are vulnerable and struggling. For me, it was also a journey of learning more about L.G.B.T. history and culture and also to demonstrate what it means to be a gay person and travel around the world.
So “Gaycation” celebrates gay travel and communities?
Totally, but it depends on the country. Like in Japan, we go to Ni-chome, the gay district in Tokyo, and then we go to Kyoto, to this Buddhist temple where they do symbolic same-sex wedding ceremonies; gay marriage isn’t legal in Japan. Ian and I wore the quote-unquote male version of the kimono and participated in the ceremony. In a place like Rio, we go to a lesbian bar, but in a place like Jamaica, gay bars don’t exist. We went to a vogueing night in New York.
What did you experience in less-welcoming destinations?
One of most special things were all the unbelievable people we got to know — the bravest people you could ever possibly meet. It was very humbling. We also had the incredible opportunity to witness the first-ever public pride event in Jamaica. After having been there for two weeks and meeting a lot of people who face a lot of difficulties, it was pretty unbelievable to see people out in the middle of Kingston with rainbow flags. It was basically like a flash mob, nothing official. I felt really grateful to them for letting us film.
Are you hoping to inspire viewers to travel or to be advocates?
It depends on the place. If I’m in a resort, does that mean I can go into town holding my girlfriend’s hand? Maybe not. Or in a place like Brazil, there’s a lot of violence toward the L.G.B.T. community, particularly transwomen. It’s not really about us traveling, it’s about the communities we meet. But also, we’re showing the joy of travel and the learning and expansion that come from it.