Ellen Page targets Hollywood imagery in coming out as gay
Ellen Page has been met with an outpouring of celebrity support after she fought back tears during an emotional speech Friday in Las Vegas in which she came out as gay. Utilizing her totem as an actress, Page early in her address singled out the entertainment industry as one that “places crushing standards on all of us.”
“Not just young people, but everyone,” Page said at the Human Rights Campaign’s inaugural “Time to Thrive” conference for educators and counselors who work with LGBTQ youth. “Standards of beauty. Of a good life. Of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me.”
“I have been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard,” continued Page, who is perhaps best-known for her role as the smart-talking pregnant teen in 2007’s “Juno” and last year starred in the PlayStation 3 video game “Beyond: Two Souls.”
The culture of celebrity -- and its effect on one’s self-worth -- was a centerpiece of Page’s speech. She praised personalities such as actress Laverne Cox, musicians Tegan and Sara Quin, and NFL hopeful Michael Sam, whom Page described as a “football hero.” The University of Missouri lineman has became the center of national news after NFL professionals questioned whether his openness with his sexuality would hurt his draft prospects.
Page cautioned her audience not to be ruled by expectations of others. “I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” she said. “I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered.”
Friends and peers have been vocal in their support of Page’s words. Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams tweeted that Page “just made me cry on Valentine’s day” and then emphasized those were “happy tears.” Actress Anna Kendrick sent “mad mad mad mad mad mad crazy love and praise” Page’s way and actor Emile Hirsch saluted Page for “courageously leading by example.”
“Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson praised Page’s message and in a follow-up tweet posted a link to the full speech. Actress Mary E. Winstead also posted the speech, praising it as “moving” and “amazing,” while “Frozen” star Kristen Bell declared herself riveted by Page’s words. Pop band Tegan and Sara responded by tweeting, “Never underestimate the courage it takes to be yourself.
Mad mad mad mad mad mad crazy love and praise for @EllenPage today. Congrats to you, you light, talent, and beauty.— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) February 15, 2014
Props to @EllenPage for helping so many people through their daily struggles by courageously leading by example and coming out on V Day!— Emile Hirsch (@EmileHirsch) February 15, 2014
Love love LOVE @EllenPage & the message she sent out today! What a perfect way to end Valentines Day!— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) February 15, 2014
Rivited by @EllenPage’s fabulous speech. So honest & funny & articulate. She Shines. Happy Valentines day to ALL. https://t.co/s6fRvd8CNj— Kristen Bell (@IMKristenBell) February 15, 2014
Page herself confronted her own celebrity status and addressed life as a magnet for gossip. Page from the podium Friday night highlighted a recent news item that criticized her choice in workout wear.
“I try not to read gossip as a rule, but the other day a website ran an article with a picture of me wearing sweatpants on the way to the gym,” Page said. “The writer asked, ‘Why does [this] petite beauty insist upon dressing like a massive man?’”
The article in question appears to have originated on entertainment/gossip site E! Online, according to Slate writer Josh Levin, who detailed the Internet trail of the E! story. The contents of the now controversial piece are currently not live on the E! site, only the URL headline of “Ellen Page Rolls Her Hobo Style Into 2014" remains.
Page criticized such superficial nitpicking as “stuff that can tear you down.”
“There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we are all supposed to act, dress and speak,” she said. “They serve no one. Anyone who defies these so-called ‘norms’ becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny.”
Page said she came out because she believed she had the “moral responsibility” to “help others have an easier and more hopeful time.” Too many, said Page, are suffering from abuse or bullying “because of who they are.”
“What I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being,” Page said. “And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”
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