In Viceland’s new docu-series “Gaycation,” actress Ellen Page and best friend Ian Daniel travel around the world to explore LGBTQ cultures in other countries, but the Oscar-nominated thesp also turned her attention toward America in the show’s first season, even confronting Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz about LGBT rights at a rally.
During an honest and often emotional keynote session with Daniel at SXSW on Saturday, Page shared her experiences of being an out lesbian in the entertainment industry, and addressed the lack of representation for minorities in film and TV.
When asked whether Hollywood has made any progress in its treatment of LGBT actors, or whether she’s found herself being passed over for jobs since coming out, Page admitted, “It’s hard for me to know — I’m not in rooms where people are making decisions of who to send what to, and the truth is, I’m absolutely not focusing on it, because being in the closet hurt my career way more than being out and being happy and feeling inspired again; being able to fuse my authentic self with my creative interests.”
Since coming out in 2014, Page noted that she’s been able to make projects like “Gaycation” and the film “Freeheld,” which she produced and starred in. She’s also producing a film with Kate Mara and Christine Vachon, in which she and Mara will star as lovers, but noted that that the conversation around such roles still seems to be fixated on her sexuality. “The differences I see are these little things like, ‘oh, you’re doing this thing that’s gay and this thing that’s gay, so now you’re doing these [gay roles].’ I’m like, you would never bring that up with a straight person; you would not say, ‘oh, you’re doing another movie where you’re playing a straight person, are you a little worried about it?’ No judgment, I’m just saying these are the double standards, and this is the conversation that needs to change.”
During the panel, Page admitted that her own quest for self-acceptance was a motivating factor in creating “Gaycation” with Daniel, whom she’s known for eight years.
“It really was about wanting more representation, because I knew how much it meant to me at 14 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to be stumbling through the TV and find ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’ and Natasha Lyonne’s like ‘I don’t get it’ about French kissing a guy and I’m like ‘neither do I!’ And that meant something to me,” she recalled. “There can be such loneliness and isolation when you’re growing up in a society that does infuse this idea in you that you’re different or something’s wrong or you’re sinful or what have you … I’m a privileged person; I live in Los Angeles; I’ve done a job that has given me money; and I can walk down the street and kiss my girlfriend. I think a lot about those that are more vulnerable than me around the world and in the United States… here’s an opportunity to go make something that allows voices to be heard that you don’t ever get to hear.”
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