‘Gaycation’’s Ian Daniel Goes Solo to Explore France’s LGBTQ Community

gaycation, season 2
Courtesy of VICELAND
Ian Daniel and Ellen Page, gaycation

While the LGBTQ community has made many strides over the past few years, they still face much inequality, violence and general misunderstanding. Helping to combat that is Viceland’s Emmy-nominated Gaycation. In Season 2, Academy Award-nominated actress Ellen Page and her best friend, writer/filmmaker Ian Daniel, continue their thoughtful reporting from various locations around the world and dig deep to uncover what’s really happening to local LGBTQ folks. The series, which is simultaneously uplifting, disturbing and frustrating, attempts to balance all sides.

After visits to Orlando, Ukraine and India this season, Daniel goes solo in this week’s episode when he ventures to France. The New York native recently talked to TV Insider about what he discovered there, as well as his own personal growth since he was in the closet when he was there in his younger years.

What did you learn from the first season that helped you this time around?
I definitely think that we both learned a lot. I had never been on camera before so I’ve never experienced being a host or interviewing people on camera or being a personality, so there was that learning curve although it was pretty simple, which is just look at people, listen to people, open your heart, open your body language to allow them to trust you to hold their story. And you’re constantly learning things about how to approach things in terms of how to talk about things political. How to talk about equality. I think in the first season we were just really learning about what our tone is, and how to respectfully cover these issues and also be as progressive as possible.

Season 2 is a little bit more focused in terms of themes. Each episode clearly is based on what’s going on in the country in terms of LBTGQ issues, but each country is so different that we really kind of just focus in on certain issues that are more relevant to there.

You’re also out on your own in this week’s episode, right?
Yes, France and the Deep South I do without Ellen so those are just different because it’s just me. There’s a little bit more of my personal story in those because I studied abroad in Paris when I was 20, so there’s a little bit of a reflection on my own personal journey with my sexuality, then not really being out with it and also being hidden and quiet and figuring it out. I mean, I was 20. I wasn’t confident in my sexuality, I guess is the right way to put it. So I wasn’t going to gay bars. I wasn’t really confident enough to do that or secure with myself to even enter that space, so it was interesting to reflect on how far I’ve come.

What did you found in France in terms of the LGBTQ community.
Paris is amazing. I truly felt excited and honored to be able to explore so freely. I think on the surface in France, yes, it seems like it’s friendly for LGBTQ people but I think mainly it’s friendlier for white gay men. And then there’s all these other marginalized communities that are struggling to have a voice in politics and cultural movements and those things.

And what do you find here in America when you go to the southern states?
I go to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia…there’s a lot of issues to cover, a lot of people to talk to, so we’re still figuring out what the framing is on that. It gets politic but from my experience with it, I don’t know what the shape of the show is [editing was still going on at the time of this interview] but it was just kind of a wild journey that was emotional and it’s active politically. This season is a little more focused and Ellen and I are probably just more confident in our ability to listen to people and understand what it means. We’re just more aware of, and we’re reflecting on what it means to have the privilege of having the show and what does the show really need to do and really need to say and how do we make it this container for other people to really share this story. We’re reflecting on it more and more and when we did Orlando, that was a real opportunity to just listen and to not impose as much as possible.

Gaycation airs Wednesdays, 10:30/9:30c, Viceland