TV Review: “Gaycation” – Insightful

Written by Danielle Sing May 06, 2016

gaycation

In March, Viceland (Vice’s television channel) released a four part documentary series called “Gaycation” hosted by Ellen Page and Ian Daniel. They travel to different parts of the world in which LGBTQ are at risk or face difficulties within their everyday lives. The documentary explores the lives of LGBTQ around the world. “Gaycation” is full of emotion and the bias of the hosts – as members of the LGBTQ community – serves a purpose to expose. Though “Gaycation” exposes a controversial subject, it’s dealt with compassion from humble hosts who aren’t afraid to enter into some dangerous situations.

Ellen Page and Ian Daniel travel to five different countries. In Japan, they discover that LGBTQ are practically invisible in their culture of conforming while at the same time gay men are sexualized in manga. In Brazil, gay marriage and adoption by gay parents is legal but it also has the highest rate of murder against LGBTQ. A third of LGBTQ refugees come from Jamaica, where they experience the several different layers of homophobia and they attend Jamaica’s first Pride event. Lastly, they attend a Two-Spirit event in Saskatchewan, a Ted Cruz rally in Iowa, and they visit homeless LGBTQ youth in Los Angeles.

“What doesn’t kill you, only makes you gayer.”

“Gaycation” is quite carefully done. It doesn’t undermine and fault these countries for their attitudes towards LGBTQ, but instead questions it. It questions how Jamaica’s Rastafarians can preach equality but still not accept LGBTQ or how LGBTQ are seen as breaking conformity in Japan but there’s a focus on gay sex in manga. It also doesn’t compare these countries’ attitudes with Western countries’ attitudes towards LGBTQ as if they are lesser; in fact, it criticizes the attitudes towards LGBTQ in the USA much more harshly than other countries. One thing that’s very well done is the compassion towards the LGBTQ that they interview. Now this where the hosts’ bias is an advantage: they empathize with fellow members of the LGBTQ community. Even if the situation is awkward – such as a gay Japanese man coming out to his mother, or violent, as speaking with trans Jamaican’s about being shot and burned by acid – Page and Daniel are humble, emotional, and compassionate. They even put themselves in dangerous situations, such as interviewing serial killers, dance hall musicians who write homophobic music, and anti-gay politicians. In these situations, they’re composed and their bias is used to expose these attitudes, even though it comes off more as an argument than an exposé.

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Page and Daniel interview an ex-police officer turned serial killer of LGBTQ in Brazil

 

There are very few faults to “Gaycation” but the main one is its purpose. The documentary series serves to expose how LGBTQ are treated around the world, but they go back and forth between LGBTQ locals and LGBTQ tourists. Most of “Gaycation” is about the LGBTQ locals and that is far more fascinating and insightful than LGBTQ tourists visiting these places. While learning how a country deals with LGBTQ is important to LGBTQ tourists and with the title of the series playing off of the word ‘vacation’, “Gaycation” should focus on the LGBTQ locals versus tourists – especially since the series even mentions that LGBTQ tourists are more privileged than the locals and attacked less often. The purpose is quite clear, but the series needs to choose its focus. One of the best parts of “Gaycation” was the Two-Spirit event in Saskatchewan in the last episode. Two-Spirit is a term used by First Nations across America to describe a person embodying both a male and female spirit. It was interesting to learn about how accepting the First Nation culture is, as they regard Two-Spirited people quite highly.

“What is it about me potentially marrying someone I’m in love with some day that is hurting you so much?”

Overall, while “Gaycation” is short – only four episodes – hearing these stories from the LGBTQ who are directly affected is very insightful. The strength, bravery, and confidence they have to even speak with Page and Daniel is inspiring to anyone. Whether you are a part of the LGBTQ community, an ally, or neither, the already confirmed and currently filming second season is something to keep an eye out for.

My Rating: 9/10

gaycation

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