Gigi Gorgeous: The Canadian transgender star who took over Sundance
Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple has taken Gorgeous' inspirational story to the big screen
In December 2013, Gigi Gorgeous sat in her Toronto bedroom and came out as transgender in a YouTube video that would turn her into a millennial icon. The video — motivated by the tragic death of her ultra-supportive mother — has since received over 3.6 million views and was the public genesis of a woman who, three years later, just witnessed her story be told on the big screen at the Sundance Film Festival in a biopic directed by two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple and executive produced by Adam Wescott and Scott Fisher of SelectNext.
"It truly is everything and does live up to the name, I think," Gigi said as she took the stage to intense applause for a post-screening Q&A earlier this week, before turning to its director. "Barbara, I loved it. Love, love, love."
It was the first time Gigi saw This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, which chronicles her transition from closeted Canadian teenage diving sensation to openly gay online sensation Gregory Gorgeous to the transgender activist, actress, model and all-around sensation she's known as today. It's a raw and unflinching exploration of the road to self-acceptance — one that brought a much-needed jolt of empowerment to a film festival set under the dark cloud of a certain presidential inauguration.
"It's still my heart, it's still my body, it's still my mind," Gigi says of herself in the film. "But it's not my fight: it's all of our fights."
That certainly includes Gigi's father and brothers, who are prominently featured in the film and who should serve as shining examples of acceptance surrounding the coming out of loved ones.
It's still my heart, it's still my body, it's still my mind. But it's not my fight: it's all of our fights.- Gigi Gorgeous
"The most important thing I learned was that we all need to treat each other the same, no matter who we are," says Kopple, whose extensive filmography includes Harlan County USA, Miss Sharon Jones! and The Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing . "And we should all be so lucky to have parents and brothers like Gigi does."
Gigi's father and brothers took the stage with her after the film, all of them in tears after seeing it for the first time as well.
"Gigi said a lot of times in the movie that she's glad she has such a supportive family," her younger brother Cory said on stage. "But I want to throw it back at you and say that I have such a great sister and such a great role model. And that you're just the embodiment of what everyone should be."
Anyone that hasn't heard of Gigi won't need to have been at Sundance to experience it through Kopple's lens. The film was produced by YouTube Red and will be available starting February 8th on the service. Despite Gigi being a proud Canuck (she's often seen with a Tim Hortons cup in her hand in the film), service is unfortunately not available in Canada yet — but since it had been expected to launch late last year, we shouldn't have to wait too much longer. In the meantime, you can get acquainted with Gigi on her own YouTube channel — and if you're in Toronto, the film screens on March 3 as part of Hot Docs' Curious Minds Weekend. Whenever the film makes it way to you, get ready to be inspired by Gigi's fabulousness.