“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you gayer,” announces a subject interviewed in the pilot of Gaycation, one of nine shows launching this winter on Vice’s new network, Viceland. This may seem like a throwaway, but the remark could actually serve as the tagline for the series, wherein Ellen Page and her best friend, Ian Daniel, tour the globe to find that, in most cases, hardship and oppression can only strengthen the identities of LGBT people. “It’s extraordinary to see people who are activists in areas where you can’t even imagine what that means,” Page says, “or to experience the first Pride in Jamaica and meet people who really put their lives at risk.”
And while some of Page and Daniel’s encounters are tragic and unnerving (they meet a mom who lost her son to a hate crime, and an ex-cop who freely admits to murdering gay people), even the frothiest escapades suggest endurance and resolve. In the Japan-set premiere, our hosts meet “rotten women”—straight female fans of gay-male erotic manga—whose key interest in the material is that it’s forbidden. Meanwhile, in rural areas, despite Japan not legally recognizing gay marriage, some companies will literally roll out the red carpet for ceremonies for gay couples, giving them grand treatment they can’t officially enjoy.
“So many of these people show such bravery that I never really showed in my past,” says Daniel, who met Page seven years ago and was her only choice to co-host. “It’s really inspiring and humbling when they share that with us.”