Assoc. Opinion Editor
For all the widely publicized news stories and day to day activities which might make one question the overall state of approval of the gay community in America lately (despite the fact that it’s the 21st freaking century), an occasional bright spot will appear and restore hope in the eyes of supporters, and give inspiration to the possibility that maybe future generations will be more open minded and accepting than the general population seems to be now-a-days. God knows we could use a few more of those lately.
Such is the case with Ellen Page, the Oscar-nominated star of films like ‘Juno’ and ‘Inception’.
This past Friday, Page publicly came out as a lesbian onstage at the Human Right’s Conference being held in Las Vegas.
She gave an emotional eight-minute speech, which contained a critique of the country’s repressive standards, as well as a mention of her own struggle and the suffering she underwent while keeping her sexuality a secret. No doubt there were many young people in attendance at the conference who could relate to her situation.
“I’m tired of hiding” Page said during her speech. “I suffered for years, because I was scared to be out.”
She then said that had learned a lot from others who have publicly announced their sexual orientation. “We deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise,” she told the crowd.
Human Rights Campaign, the organizer of the conference, proceeded to praise Page on their Twitter following her speech.
“Congratulations, @EllenPage for taking the steps to live openly and come out as lesbian. #comingout,” the organization tweeted.
Following her courageous speech, Page was rightfully met with thunderous applause from the audience, and also received subsequent accolades from fans and fellow Hollywood stars alike for days after the conference.
Even for non-celebrities (or perhaps especially for non-celebrities), this is pretty inspirational.
And before the obligatory dissenters jump in with comments like “Who cares?” and “What’s the big deal, bro,” remember this: last week, Kansas – a part of a first-world country in 2014 – is trying to make it legal for businesses to refuse service to people and/or couples they suspect might be gay (collective eye-roll and groan in 3… 2… 1…). You better believe that this sort of thing still matters.
It’s actually pretty huge, because Ellen Page isn’t merely a former celebrity of some fringe TV persona or a forgotten child star light-years past her prime; she’s a major Generation-Y star at probably within years of the peak of her career.
Page’s visibility as an openly gay woman, as cliché as this sounds, will most likely give strength to the people of her generation (and those younger as well) to accept themselves for who and what they are, the importance of which cannot be overstated.
No matter how many strides are made both legally and otherwise, the very first hurdle for LGBTQ youth is still finding a way to cast off the pressures of society and tradition and nonsensical primitive superstitions about gender and sexuality and accept that they are who they are. And this really does help. Every little bit of this helps.
Today, this woman is a hero.