26-year-old actress gave a heartfelt speech to the LGBT youth in Las Vegas during the Time to Thrive conference on Friday. During the same speech, she also came out as gay.
The indie darling, who is well known for her role in Juno and is set to star in the upcoming blockbuster X-Men: Days Of Future Past, gave a candid and emotionally charged speech to the conference, drawing on the torment that she has endured from not being able to live an authentic life as a lesbian.
I am here today because I am gay...and because maybe I can make a difference. I'm tired of hiding and tired of living by omission. I've suffered for years because I refused to be out.
Her speech comes at a time when sexual politics is ever more pressing in present discourse, where her words highlight that coming out is often received by entrenched prejudice. As an actress, Page recognized her participation and perhaps submission to the movie industry which dictates and promotes unrealistic gender stereotypes. She explained that although she is now 'on the other side of that pain', there are many others who continue to live in an 'inauthentic way', which often still sadly leads to
Too many dropouts, too much abuse, too many suicides.
Page explained that a career in the film industry has rendered herself and others 'a victim of scrutiny' due to not fitting into those conventional 'gender norms'.
[The industry] Places crushing standards on all of us: beauty, a good life and success. Not to mention dictating 'How you have to act, dress and who you have to be.
In an ideal world, Page would not feel pressured to come out. But this isn't an ideal world. Thus, it falls on the shoulders of the famous, like Page, who are instrumental in the progression of gay rights. While the very terminology of 'coming out' should no longer be an integral part of sexual identity, we still find ourselves battling against the formidable closet construct.
Watch the speech at the Time to Thrive human rights conference below:
In light of this, specifically young gay women, until now, have lacked a role model in the mainstream entertainment industry whom they are able to look up to or identify with. For example, we learned only in 2013 that 51-year-old actress felt compelled to come out at the Golden Globes when accepting her Cecil B Demille award. After a career which spans 4 decades, her eventual coming out was perceived by many in the gay community as problematic. Her justification was put down to a desire for personal privacy, however it was widely considered a cop-out when measured against those living a fearlessly open life, but who are not protected by the privilege and influence that Foster has and continues to have. Where Foster's 'admission' would have seen her buffered by her fame, many of those anonymous people struggled and even died in the plight for individual freedom.
This is why, disheartening though it may be, Ellen Page demonstrated great courage in standing up on that podium. Her speech pushed acceptance forward a few stages more - recognizing how instrumental her and other famous people are - in the evolution of gender politics. Page's coming out will undoubtedly give many other young people the courage to lead a real life, where one day, who you love will not be a vehicle for persecution and, hopefully, freedom of sexual identity will eventually abound.