Ellen Page, best known for her breakout role in Juno (and for just being all-around awesome), came out as gay yesterday during a Human Rights Campaign conference for LGBT teens. She gave an incredibly emotional and powerful speech about how we could all make the world better by being a little less horrible to one another, and I have to say it honestly gave me goosebumps. It was the perfect way to end Valentine’s Day, if you ask me.
It’s weird because here I am, an actress, representing—at least in some sense—an industry that places crushing standards on all of us. Not just young people, but everyone. Standards of beauty. Of a good life. Of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me. You have ideas planted in your head, thoughts you never had before, that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress and who you have to be. I have been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard.
What an incredibly honest and important message to send, right? Because it applies to everyone. We can all relate to what she’s saying here, either because we’ve been affected by the “crushing standards” she mentions, or because we can all at least acknowledge that these standards are shaping our youth and our present culture. Every day. Sometimes we forget that actors are human beings, too. I know I’m guilty of it sometimes. Which just helps make it even more difficult for famous people to come out and share their story to those who could really benefit from hearing it:
“I’m here today because I am gay. And because… maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility. I also do it selfishly, because I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain.”
I absolutely recommend watching her speech in its entirety, because it’s captivating, brutally honest, humble, and so genuine. Way to go, Ellen Page! You’ve inspired so many people today.