why coming out was a 'moral imperative' for ellen page

Nearly a year after she announced she is gay, the actress is in love, doing great work, and feeling free.

by Laura Vogel
31 January 2016, 4:00pm

Creative Commons

Ellen Page is the beloved star of the 2007 film Juno, a freshly minted homeowner (she bought a modernist place in Los Angeles), and is crazy in love with her girlfriend, artist Samantha Thomas. Up until Valentine's Day of 2015, however, Page kept her partner — and the fact that she is a lesbian — out of the spotlight. However, she is now out and proud. Page shared some of what she's learned in the year after her groundbreaking coming-out speech before a LGBT audience at the Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive Conference with The Guardian.

Before that fateful February 14, Page says she was "lying by omission," afraid that making her gayness public would hinder her ability to get roles in Hollywood (though she was out to her family and close friends). "I'm here today because I am gay," the then-26-year-old actress told the audience during her eight-minute speech which garnered a standing ovation and millions of shares on social media.

Page explains how she arrived at the point that she wanted to tell her truth to the world: "I felt, let's just please be done with this chapter of discomfort and sadness and anxiety. I felt guilty for not being a visible person for the community, and for having the privilege that I had and not using it. I had got to the point where I was telling myself, you know, you should feel guilty about this. I was an active participant in an element of Hollywood that is gross. I would never judge somebody else for not coming out, but for me, personally, it did start to feel like a moral imperative."

The actress says that her coming-out speech was life-altering. On February 15 of last year, the day after her announcement, she went to Montreal for reshoots on a movie. She says that, right away, the cast and crew noticed that something about her had changed. She says, "I was totally different! Just the immediacy of how much better I felt, I felt it in every cell of my body."

The actress, recently starred with Julianne Moore in Freeheld, a film based on a true story of a lesbian couple fighting for spousal rights when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She is also one of the co-stars of Gaycation for Vice TV, wherein Page and her best friend, a gay man named Ian Daniel, travel the world to confront homophobic people in places like Jamaica, where coming out can be a life-threatening decision and gay rights are nonexistent. "The goal of the show," Page explains, "is to go and look at the LGBT culture, at the joy and the liberation."

When asked if she was worried that announcing that she was a lesbian would hurt her career, Page says, "I'd be lying if I said that wasn't something I feared, and that's the big reason so many people haven't come out. For me, being out within my life became far more important than being in any movie."


Text Laura Vogel
Image Creative Commons

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