With more than 7 million combined platform followers, Gigi Gorgeous is arguably the most famous transgender Canadian in the world. Although her popular YouTube channel has garnered more than 317 million views, Gigi Gorgeous' latest accomplishment is particularly impressive. In January, her documentary This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews. She spoke with Out about her film's message of acceptance and how traveling the world made her appreciate the tolerance and compassion of her native Canada.
Out magazine: So you've been a social media star for some time now. But you premiered your film, This Is Everything, at Sundance and you've been promoting it all over. What's the experience of this new level of visibility been like? Gigi Gorgeous: It was so amazing. Having billboards in Los Angeles has always been a dream of mine. I think when you move to the town you always think, "What if my face was up there?" And the road to having it be up there was so magical. When we got the announcement that we were accepted into the Sundance Film Festival, I was over the moon. I think I was in a state of shock. I don't even remember where I was when I heard the news.
Out magazine: Well, congratulations. It's a big win. What do you hope that people have learned from the documentary, or what have you been hearing them tell you afterward? Gigi Gorgeous: I have gotten a lot of people saying that they loved my father. They loved the narrative of my father and me. If I could have like one or two things that people take away from this film, I would say that I would love people to take away that the world needs more understanding and acceptance, especially in times like this.
The movie really does show a real person, being me, a real person going through a struggle of identity and having her family behind her and her friends behind her and trying to understand her. I think that's what parents nowadays need to see even if they don't have a child or someone in their life that is LBGTQ. I think it's a movie about acceptance and love.
Out magazine: As you mentioned this is a time when trans kids, students, people are fighting for rights just to use the bathroom. What would you think is the importance of transgender films like yours in a time like this? Gigi Gorgeous: Even though it is just from one person's perspective, the movie gives a really real look at a transgender person's life, beginning to end of their transition.
I definitely think that the bathroom situation is really upsetting in so many ways. Everybody is entitled to an education, and if you aren't feeling safe in your education, then it defeats the purpose. It makes me really sad that we're having to go through that in the United States because anybody who has the guts to come out as transgender, and to live as their authentic self, should be celebrated and not left feeling defeated.
Out magazine: What was it like growing up in Canada as a transgender person? Gigi Gorgeous: It was honestly really, really accepting. I grew up in Toronto, which is the biggest city in Canada. Even though I went to a Catholic high school, I was in a uniform every single day, I had friends around me who accepted me and loved me. I would go to downtown Toronto, to the club scene and to restaurants. I really did live in a very accepting environment.
Out magazine: Beautiful. What's your favorite city in Canada? Gigi Gorgeous: I would have to say Toronto. I'm biased because that's where I grew up, although I was born in Montreal. I love Montreal as well. I just love Toronto because it really is home to every single kind of person. You can find tons of personality. It is a really, really great city.
Out magazine: Pride last year felt really inclusive in Toronto. Everyone was there. Gigi Gorgeous: Yeah! It's like a huge party.
Out magazine: Where do Canadians vacation that us tourists don't know about? Gigi Gorgeous: Well, my family, we were skiers growing up so we would go to Kelowna or out west to Vancouver to go skiing. I think that that's a great change of scenery because of the mountains and the skiing obviously.
Out magazine: Do you have a fondest memory of traveling that you'd like to share? Gigi Gorgeous: Yes! This ski resort called Silver Star, I believe, it was one of the best memories my family and I had in Canada. We stayed in this chalet down by the mountains. We could ski right up to it, then at the end of the day we'd have a little apres ski hot chocolate. It was really nice. I think everyone needs to experience that at some point.
Out magazine: What's your all-time favorite restaurant in all of Canada? And whenever we next go there, what should we try? Gigi Gorgeous: The first one that always comes to mind is Chow in downtown Toronto. It's in Yorkville. It's a wine bar, but they do serve food. It's Italian and I'm Italian so I love meatballs and pizza. Anything from that side of the menu would be amazing. It's a really good atmosphere, too.
Out magazine: Sounds delicious. I think I might know the answer, but if we could visit only one city in Canada, what city would that be? Gigi Gorgeous: You know what? I would actually say somewhere in Quebec. Maybe Quebec City because there is so much history there. The buildings are so beautiful. Everything is from way back when. I think that would be a really great place to go.
Out magazine: Great, and learn a little French, too, while you're there. Gigi Gorgeous: Exactly! A little diversity.
Out magazine: What are some ways that states and other countries can make themselves more appealing to LGBT travelers? Gigi Gorgeous: Be more accepting and open. Having stories out there like mine, where people of the same community are sharing their stories and letting their truth out there about what happened for them, is so important.
Out magazine: By the way, where can we watch your film? Gigi Gorgeous: It's available on YouTube Red exclusively. If it's not available on YouTube Red where you are, you can purchase the movie on Google Play. I think that's important to know because I know a lot of my Canadian viewers are like, 'Wait! I can't watch your movie. And you're from Canada!'