VICE’s Gaycation Goes Behind the Scenes
Everyone is gay these days, it’s becoming a trend.
This kind of statement is heard a lot these days because of the slow-growing acceptance toward those in the LGBTQ+ community. Despite these ideas that some have, “gay people” weren’t just invented. Gay people have always existed, but have never had the visibility they do today due to the expectation to conform to “normality,” or a widely heterosexual world.
In the past and even today, those who don’t identify as straight have had to become invisible or deny their sexuality in order to live safely. In the present, more attention has been drawn to prejudice and violence toward those in the LGBTQ+ community around the world through and the media.
With the emerging popularity of this movement to “normalize” being gay, there are those who question what exactly LGBTQ+ stands for, or who it refers to: The LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and others who don’t identify as straight.
Gaycation a web-series published by VICE News explores the lives and conditions of those who fall under this term around the world. The two hosts of Gaycation, actress Ellen Page and Ian Daniel, both identify as gay and attempt to bring a view of the world through their sexual identities. So far, VICE aired episodes about Japan, Brazil, and they plan to explore the conditions of the LGBTQ+ community in Jamaica, and here in the USA as well.
In Japan, the angle seemed to be focused mostly on the “LG” part of the LGBTQ+. Ellen and Ian explored Ni-chōme, a district in Tokyo known for its gay bars and nightlife. But the district has more to offer than a fun night out. In more recent years, counseling rooms for young gay men have been established there, and Japan’s first candlelight AIDS vigil occurred here in 1986. Ni-chōme is also home to the first of Tokyo’s Annual International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, established in 1992.
Ellen and Ian seemed to enjoy the fun Ni-chōme had to offer, but their night took on a feeling of sobriety when they questioned a customer at one of the gay bars about what it was like to be gay in Japan. The man explained how the idea of someone not being straight makes people uncomfortable. He continued, saying how people seemed to be ok with it as long as it was “out of their sight.” Ellen later commented on the locations in Ni-chōme in general, saying how it seemed to be “very much behind closed doors.”
Next, Ellen and Ian’s exploration of gay culture and conditions took them to Brazil. Known for its colorful and festive Carnival, as well as the festival’s uncommonly flamboyant nature, one would think that there would be more acceptance towards those who don’t conform to what’s expected.
Gay culture and LGBTQ+ members seem to play a large part in the performances and festivities of Carnival. But once again, the show takes a tone of sobriety when Ellen explains that just a week before they arrived in Rio de Janiero, the body of a 25-year-old trans woman, Claudia de Silva, was found dead near her house. Due to the condition of her body, the cause of death was concluded to be torture. Claudia was a well-known dancer that participated in Carnival. The day after her death, footage surfaced online, showing de Silva covered in blood, pleading with her aggressors. But de Silva wasn’t the first, and sadly enough, probably won’t be the last trans person murdered in Brazil.
A 2015 report from Al Jazeera details Brazil as having “the greatest number of murdered trans people in the world.” The report also explained how the life expectancy for an average Brazilian is 75 years old, while trans people in Brazil are expected to live no later than 30.
Gaycation’s exploration in Brazil revealed that underneath the glitter and glamour of Carnival and Brazilian culture, there is hate and prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community.
VICE’s Gaycation, which airs on their alternate channel, Viceland, did an excellent job of displaying what it’s like to be gay across the world thus far. Their portrayal of the dangers trans people face is done especially well, and would very much inform someone who hadn’t known these things previously. While some of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle depends on the sex industry to survive, especially for those who are trans, this series seems to play up the idea that people in the LGBTQ+ community are naturally sexually deviant or sexual in some way. Unfortunately, this idea is mostly what causes violence and hatred toward those in this community, the idea that those who are gay and trans are trying to “corrupt” what people know and are used to. T
he series so far seems to be playing into a stereotype: A stereotype that people use to justify their violence and hatred toward those in the LGBTQ+ community.
The first season of the web-series can be viewed at viceland.com
– by Cheynne Haskins ’16