Act Naturally


By Nelson Branco

Is it weird that Degrassi is a bigger hit and sensation in America than in Canada?
It doesn't make me mad, it makes me feel defeated with our culture. The concept of culture and identity has always been in flux in our country. We never really know who we are, and in terms of entertainment we've always felt subordinate. We were getting American signals long before we even built a radio or TV system in Canada. The line is: Americans love their own, and Canadians love Americans. What's funny about our show is that in this one particular case it's the opposite: Americans love this Canadian show, but we don't. And they are obsessed -- the Customs people tell us whenever kids come through they always ask where the cast lives!

Has The N, which is owned by Viacom, said anything regarding your coming out?
The N, which is a part of the MTV and Nickelodeon family, hasn't yet. The ironic thing is we always have to shoot alternate scenes for the U.S. network -- Canada gets the racier stuff. For example, when Spinner graffiti-ed 'Marco is a fag,' -- for the Americans, we had to shoot it as, 'Marco is gay.' CTV is a national network, while The N is a youth network, so we have to make it appropriate for kids. But the fact is kids use the words 'fuck' and 'fag.' The great thing about Canada is we don't poo-talk to kids, and we certainly don't underestimate them -- we talk to them, not at them. In America, it's another story obviously. Damn TV and politics -- I hate censorship. It's not easy being an artist.

Most of your American teenage female fans were shocked when you came out, I heard. Before you came out officially, posters on Degrassi fan message boards would actually bully people into believing you were...
Straight! Can you believe that? People believe what they want to believe, and that happens mostly in America. Here in Canada, we just see human beings for the most part. So, I'm sure me coming out is going to make some waves down south. With the small amount of celebrity I've had in my life, knowing that, how can I believe that Britney Spears is pregnant for third time when they think I'm straight?