Ian Daniel talks friendship with Ellen Page, going home to Indiana, and seeking optimism in the age of Trump.
VICELAND’s groundbreaking show Gaycation, cohosted by Ellen Page and Ian Daniel delves into what it is like to be gay in countries all around the world. The pair aims to tell the stories that don’t often get heard.
In the recent special United We Stand, Daniel and Page turn their attention to the current state of politics in America, the election of Donald Trump, and what that means for LGBTQpeople in the wake of increased social tension and imminent threats to equal rights.
The pair took to D.C. to witness Trump’s inauguration and the historic Women’s March.
“I went to go see it and the energy in the air wasn’t celebratory at all, it was more of a morose feeling. I think the streets of D.C. were kind of dead and there was no energy. I was a little bit confused about when people were coming in and what was going on to be honest,” Daniel says.
“There was a shift when the Women’s March people started coming in. People were energized and triumphant. Also frightened and scared, but there was a real feeling of solidarity and coming together.”
In the special, the pair visits a place close to Daniel’s heart, his home state of Indiana. Visiting his hometown, as well as Indiana Youth Group (IYG), a safe haven for LGBTQ youth in Indianapolis, and meeting and hearing the story of a transgender boy and his father, were highlighted in the episode.
“It was super special to have my mother involved. I never really asked her about how she felt about me being gay. It was shocking for my own mother to speak the truth that she had grappled with it and there may have been some bigotry involved,” Daniel says.
“That story, and the story of the transgender boy and his father who admitted at one point he had hatred in his heart and he has changed and learned to be supportive and loving. I think it’s powerful to share that people make that switch into acceptance.”
The show not only captures the physical journey of the duo traveling around the world, but also the emotional journey and evolution of Daniel and Page’s friendship.
“You just become a closer unit. On the show you almost become one person. You’re always reading each other’s energy and you go through so many things together,”
“You feel fortunate for the experiences, and the friendship I do have with Ellen and the privilege we have to make the show but it also can knock you. The stories you hear, and when you really think about the discrimination people face and the violence people face, I think that strengthens our friendship to have each other to go through that with. I have endless love for her and our love tends to grow and grow.”
After two seasons, Daniel reflects on the show’s positive impact.
“We’ve worked hard to make this thing that hopefully will, on some level, activate people or change the way they feel about somebody else to create some sort of compassion. I feel very proud of the people who risked something to share their story and told the truth. I just think of all the amazing marginalized communities that we talked to that maybe were risking something by talking and that makes me proud that that is on camera and that exists in this thing that will be shared with our audience,” says Daniel.
As for how he plans to get through this administration, he can’t help but try to be optimistic.
“I’m a hopeful person so let’s just frame it with that. So yes, I can get morose and see the darkness in things and hone in on that but I think I am optimistic in the power of people to change and come together. I truly believe that people in a collective unit and coming together do make great change. I have to believe that and I try to inspire that as much as I can.”