The internets and social media networks have been all abuzz about Ellen Page coming out in her speech at the Human Rights Campaign Time to Thrive Conference last week. If you live under a rock and/or haven’t watched it already, you really, really should.
Her brave speech (seriously, tears just listening to her voice shake), the support from her fellow actors, and the media’s response to an actress choosing to “live openly and authentically” is enough to make any ally, activist, or human person with a heart melt a little bit inside. But we have some follow up questions.
As a former BUST cover girl, we’re proud of Ellen and her strong and inspiring fighting words towards a brighter future for acceptance. But the real question that comes to our minds is, why did Ellen Page, and so many other people in the public eye (she is certainly not alone) hide their sexual orientation for so long? Why do powerful public figures choose and/or feel pressured to remain in the closet? What does the decision to wait imply about being proudly out as a recognized face?
Perhaps the hesitance is rooted in the hopefully outdated career dive famously experienced by Ellen Degeneres, who came out on her television show as a character and actress, only for the show to be canceled, and for her phone to stop ringing with opportunity. HOWEVER, Ellen resurfaced as a powerful personality with a fiery surge, and is a proudly out LGBTQ advocate. Hopefully Hollywood and its audiences have learned how seriously stupid they were acting and hopefully, acceptance is not only a dream for the future, but a reality slowly coming to fruition.
Page has been in the public light since Hard Candy (2005), and more famously since her breakout role in Juno (2007)- where she plays (spoiler alert!) a pregnant teenage girl deciding to give her baby up for adoption. She was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA for Juno and continued to star in awesome films such as Whip It (2009), Inception (2010), To Rome With Love (2012), and coming up, X-Men: Days of the Future Past (2014). But if Page had been out since the beginning, is there an implied assumption that she wouldn’t have had such a notable career? Is she now forever confined to play exclusively gay roles just because that she has publicly identified herself as such?
The answer, of course is NO!!! Page has built a career on playing kick-ass female roles that are sexy, smart, sarcastic and most of all, multidimensional. She has obviously chosen well throughout her career, but we have a major gear to grind with whoever has been advising her against commenting about her sexual orientation. Seriously.
It should be said though, that coming out is absolutely a decision to be made by each individual on their own terms, and no one should ever feel they have to come out or publicly choose a label for their sexual orientation. In fact, we look forward to the day that coming out is not cause for grand celebration (or the less attractive hateful backlash), but when it's just another normal event on a normal day full of normalized acceptance and equality and all of that awesome stuff that doesn't exist in our current homophobic culture.
The moral of the story is, Ellen Page is now openly gay and she is the same amazingly talented Ellen Page as she always was, but even better for standing up for herself in a world so full of fear of difference. We loved her before, we love her now, and we will continue to love her when X-Men: Days of the Future Past is released on May 23, 2014 (!!!). We hope her brave actions will inspire others to follow in her footsteps, and further carve the path to equality.