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How Ellen Page Turned From an Indie Darling Into a Gay Icon

Her Emmy Award-nominated series 'Gaycation' premieres on SBS VICELAND this month.

Page and her longtime friend Ian Daniel in Gaycation

This piece was originally featured on VICE Australia. When Ellen Page first began leaking into the household consciousness as the title character in indie triumph Juno, she was almost unanimously and instantly beloved. Was it her, dare I say, quirky nature? Her smile? Her monotone voice and deft delivery? Or the way that she was beautiful like a girl who could've lived on your street? Who knows.

Her performance in Juno earned her an Oscar nomination, and lead to roles in similar indie comedies like Smart People and Whip It, and to blockbusters like Inception and X-Men. And all this time she was omitting a crucial piece of her identity from the one the world was crafting for her.


Gaycation, along with a bunch of great shows from VICE will be free to watch on SBS VICELAND, launching November 15.

In 2014, at the Human Rights Campaign's "Time to Thrive" conference, six years after the release of Juno, Page told the world that she was "tired of lying by omission"—that she was gay. The Canadian actress, 27 at the time, spoke about having suffered for years; "my spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered." She said. "I am here today, with all of you, on the other side of that pain."

In an interview with Elle back in January, Page said that her choice to come out publicly had affected the breadth of her acting roles, and that she was experiencing being pigeonholed as a "gay actor." She felt as though she was no longer being considered for straight roles.

"There's still this double standard," she said. "I look at all the things I've done in movies: I've drugged a guy, tortured someone, become a roller-derby star overnight. But now I'm gay, I can't play a straight person?"

She's not the only person in Hollywood to have discovered this. In IMDB's list of the most successful openly gay actors and actresses, out of 66 people profiled, only nine of them are listed as lesbian. How many times has the world met an open and out lesbian actress with open arms? How many have we seen whose sexuality has not been used as a constant point of difference? How many actresses and Hollywood personalities are there that are deeply successful and openly gay in the way the Neil Patrick Harris or Zachary Quinto or Ian McKellen are?


Ellen Degeneres? Jodie Foster? You can count the examples on two hands—which is understandable when you remember that Degeneres's sitcom was subsequently cancelled after she announced "Yep, I'm gay" on the cover of Time Magazine. And there aren't many who've done it as young as Page. Degeneres came out to the public at 39, and Foster—technically—at 50.

Maybe this is why Page has since been on a projected path toward Gay Icon status. It started with 2015's Freeheld, the mostly-fictional drama about a lesbian couple who fight the legal system, Erin Brockovich-style, for their right to spousal pension payments when one of them (Julianne Moore) is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"[This show] is a reflection of things that I always thought about and cared about" - Page on the set of Gaycation

It was around the same time that she showed up on VICE's radar, and pitched the queer-perspective travel series Gaycation to Creative Director Spike Jonze. The first season of the VICELAND show saw her and her longtime friend, Ian Daniel, travelling the world to investigate its many and complex gay cultures.

"The show is about the triumphs, the joys, the nightlife." Page told Vulture back in March. "Sadly, a part of the show is about the discrimination people face and how oppression affects people's lives."

Gaycation seemed like the perfect way to marry Page's film experience with her desire to explore and connect with the global LGBTQ community. "We wanted to give a voice to those who don't always get to share their perspective or what they're going through," Page said earlier this year. "I think a lot of people just don't understand the difficulties a lot of people face in the community—including in America still, despite all the incredible progress."

The premiere episode followed Page and Daniel into Japan's gay and queer scenes, looking into how the country's often strained and archaic views of sex and sexuality impact the LGBTQ community. From there they visit Brazil and Jamaica, and beeline from Iowa to New York as they attempt to piece together how the queer scenes on each continent, to each city, are affected by legislation, violence and pride.

"[This show] is a reflection of things that I always thought about and cared about and now I'm able to align my work and creative life with who I am," Page told Indiewire.

Gaycation will premiere on Australian television on Tuesday November 15 at 8:30 PM, kicking off the launch of SBS VICELAND.

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