In case you haven’t heard, Ellen Page, the actress most notably seen in Juno (2007) and Inception (2010), recently came out as gay at the Human Rights Campaign conference, Time to Thrive. It was a late Valentine’s Day gift that took Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr timelines by storm. Many people, myself included, admit that we are not entirely surprised by this announcement. Page is frankly petite and cute, but she has always come across as not particularly feminine – although, femininity or lack thereof as a marker of Lesbianship (that’s not a word is it?) is a whole debate in and of itself of course. Basically, there was just something about her that didn’t lend to the notion of her being heterosexual. But these premeditated notions are besides the point.
Many people, from regular Joe’s and Joanne’s to top notch celebrities, have been commending Ellen and her bravery and making statements of just how proud they are of this adorable, bad ass little woman. But of course, there is the other side of it: so many people have also been commenting and asking why this is even a big deal … we basically already knew she was gay right? I think these people are painfully missing the bigger picture. Just watching the first few moments of the video, you can tell she is nervous. This isn’t just normal, commonplace stage fright – it’s
ohmygod, what the fuck am I about to do right now genuine apprehension in anticipation of what she’s about to publicly say. Also, lest we fail to realize, her announcement is like 25% of the entire speech. It’s a big part, yes no doubt, but what she really speaks to is the experience of being homosexual, transgender, queer – and ultimately, the experience of just being human.
There is courage in this room. And I am inspired to be in this room because every single one of you is here … because you’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences – that’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives. Then again, it can be the hardest thing – because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. And I know many of you have struggled with this, and I draw upon your strength and your support in ways that you will never know. And I am here today, because I am gay.
Would it be great to live in a world where “coming out” wasn’t a thing? Yes. Unfortunately, however, we live in a world where heterosexual is the norm and anything even remotely deviant from that is “other” – an other that gets beaten and chastised for merely existing. An other that is relentlessly criticized and marginalized because of fear and misunderstanding. I am not a lesbian, so I can’t speak firsthand about what it’s like to be homosexual. But that doesn’t mean I should sit quietly in a corner because this is none of my business. It certainly isn’t my business what you do with your time, as long as it’s not hurting anyone directly – but it does become my business, and should be everyone’s business by extension, when being “other” becomes a crime punishable by law. Because guess what? That’s exactly what’s happening outside our comfortable, soundproof walls. And don’t you dare throw your bible verses at me because the Jesus I believe in dwelled with sinners and offenders of the worst kind, and yet he loved them without restraint. Or have you forgotten, in your haste to be holy: “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
A lot of people have been saying Ellen is just out to get attention. “Why are people praising her for being gay? Why is this important? Why Should we care?” We should care because out there is a young woman, a young man living behind a veil of self-loathing and lies. Ellen Page is just a face we already know bringing attention to issues we might not know as much about. This speech going viral – let’s face it, celebrity helps – brings us one step closer to closing in on the margin. I commend her and I commend those who support her.
Onward, human race, onward!