Review: ‘Gaycation’ is a beacon of awareness about the LGBTQ community

JANIQUE BALTIMORE

Contributor

In February, Vice Media launched its first ever television network, Viceland, in Canada and the United States. This was my very first introduction to the company, even though it started out as a Canadian magazine in 1994.

Viceland mainly features various lifestyle-type reality shows geared toward today’s millennials. One show in particular that caught my attention was “Gaycation,” starring Ellen Page and her best friend Ian Daniel. 

“Gaycation” follows Ellen and Ian as they visit a number of different countries on a mission to find out what it is like for the LGBTQ community in different cultures. So far, they have visited Brazil, Japan, the United States and Jamaica.

After just visiting Jamaica this past spring break, I thought I’d watch that episode as my introduction to the series.

When you think of Jamaica, sometimes the first thing that comes to mind is Rastafarian culture. That is exactly where Page and Daniel started.

They talked to a Rastafarian man to find out more about the religion and its view on homosexuality. The way he described Rastafarian beliefs was “… And we try to live a certain life, and this is why we say the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance as the color of his eyes.” The Rastafarian religion was born out of an effort to end oppression in slavery days. When it came to the issue of LGBTQ people, though, he called it a “disorder.”

Things like aggressive song lyrics and religious messages preached against homosexuality are some factors that may have had a hand in Jamaica’s overall view on the subject.

Other instances of hate and violence were shown to plague the LGBTQ community. Some people were forced to live in terrible conditions; some were homeless because of the intolerance and brutality they were experiencing from their families and those around them, including strangers on the street.

This obviously was met with some backlash from people who think the show is painting Jamaica in a bad light. Obviously, you can’t say that everyone in Jamaica is homophobic and cruel, but can you really ignore individual experiences from those who have suffered?

My parents are from Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, and it did hurt to see this kind of thing being brought to life in the country. All I can really do is educate my family members and applaud the people in Jamaica who are trying to change the island for the better.

The episode ended on a lighter note with the first ever public pride celebration being held in New Kingston. Things may be changing in Jamaica.

“Gaycation,” in my opinion, is a beacon of awareness and definitely has no problem with keeping you tuned in with its constant discovery and exploration of new cultures and how that culture reacts to the LGBTQ community. “Gaycation” is eye-opening and, as you probably have guessed, at times a hard watch.

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