Ellen Page and friend Ian Daniel are doing a little traveling to learn more about global gay culture.
It’s all part of their new Viceland docu-series “Gaycation,” following the two around the world as they interview people and interact with other cultures to learn more about what it’s like to be gay in these countries, and to generally shine a light on global gay rights.
The first episode takes a look at Japan.
At first glance, Japan seems like it might be a pretty gay-friendly.
While the country doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, it does accept civil unions, there haven’t been laws explicitly prohibiting same-sex relationships since the late 19th century, several cities throughout the country have nondiscrimination ordinances, and its predominant religions aren’t anti-gay (relative to what we’re used to here in the U.S.).
Still, it’s not all that gay-friendly overall. It’s kind of odd, really.
A 2014 study found that nearly 70% of the country’s gay, lesbian, and bisexual students had experienced bullying on the basis of their sexual orientation, and 30% had considered suicide.
Even so, the homophobia in Japanese culture is, for the most part, pretty subtle.
Kanako Otsuji, Japan’s first out gay politician, explains what prevents gay people from feeling comfortable: fear and shame.
While we’re used to really blatant (sometimes even violent) forms of homophobia in the U.S., it’s different in Japan. That is, being gay is a path to being ostracized by friends, family, and coworkers. It’s faint, but present. Coming out is met with shame.
During the episode, Otsuji explains that climate and demonstrates why she’s a total badass for pushing to make gay rights part of her political platform in spite of pushback.
All that is what makes this next part so powerful.
Page and Daniel were asked to tag along and provide support as a man came out as gay to his mother.
The young man wanted a friend there to support him during the difficult conversation, only he didn’t have any. So Page and Daniel came along as a show of solidarity.
In a culture where coming out is seen as shameful, the young man’s bravery is stunning.
The whole scene is really touching and might just make you cry.
His mother briefly left the room, saying, “I’m sorry.” Soon enough, she was back, and she did what any loving mother would do: She offered her son support and pledged to “accept it and gradually understand it.”
It’s important to be authentic. That’s why coming out can be so crucial to one’s own self-esteem and overall happiness.
Here. Let Ellen Page explain why she felt she had to come out:
It’s through coming out that we can change minds and change the world.
Page ends the episode talking about the importance of coming out, and how that’s the most surefire path to long-term social acceptance. (And she’s right.)
“I think the interesting thing about … people who have a hard time with [the LGBT community] … when someone in their life comes out, the change is fast,” says Page. “It’s not always super easy at first, but I feel like people evolve quite quickly. I think it’s because we all obviously understand love and desire it, and can understand what that means for other people.”
Watch the entire episode of “Gaycation” below (the story of the man coming out to his mother starts at about 33 minutes).
Can’t wait for episode two!