Traveling Light (Televison Thoughts, Gaycation, Viceland)

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I have a friend who, whenever he is traveling, always wants to go out to he local gay hangouts, whether it be bars, nightclubs, or even sex clubs. We call him our ‘professional gay’ friend. When I was young, I admit, I used to be the same, but in recent years, I have experienced a little bit of gay fatigue. Besides, that is not the single thing that defines me anyway. But as I watch “Gaycation,” the new docu series for Viceland, I see that I probably need to do a little bit more of exploring when I next travel. They say that when you travel, you open your eyes to the world, and you know a little bit more about yourself. Watching the four episode of this series certainly did that. Hosted by Ellen Page and Ian Daniel (BFFs in real life) they explore four countries – Japan, Brasil, Jamaica, and good ol USA, and we find that even though these are four very different countries, there is still a long way to go (in varying degrees) in achieving equality for the LGBTQ community. In Japan, we get to see how they interact – how bars for gays and lesbians are set up there. Even though some circles are very accepting of gay people, there is still that conservatism that peeps through. There is a very touching segment wherein a young gay men comes out to his mother on camera – and it’s eye opening, and you will not help but be touched by how the mother reacted. They go to Rio in the height of Carnival, and you will see how Brasilians are so sexually free in these times. And while Brasi is the first country in Latin America to adapt marriage equality, there is still a prevailing sense of discrimination towards gay people, and more particularly, on trans women. There is a very chilling segment wherein they interview a gay serial killer, who goes on record as having killed gay people. You can sense the fear in Page’s eyes, and you will, too. And in Jamaica, it is even more frightening, we see how these young gay men are tortured and killed, and we see politicians, and religious leaders, agreeing to the idea. I can say that until things get better there, you will never ever see me setting foot in that country. Back here in America, we see that controversial (and viral) argument that Page had with Ted Cruz, the Republican Presidential candidate, and you ask yourself – this man is running in this day and age with this hate in his heart? It’s really frightening. This series opened my eyes. When I go to other countries, I sometimes gloss over what some of the gay people there have to go through to live. Maybe I can sometimes be like my “gay professional” friend. But perhaps I should go in with a deeper purpose – he does it for the purpose of partying – because in trying to understand others, I peel another layer off myself, and I become more raw and vulnerable, and in turn become a better human being.

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