Written by Rebecca Marie-Taylor.
By now, most of you will have heard Ellen Page’s message heard around the world: she is gay. For the most part, this doesn’t seem to have sent anyone into fits of outrage (aside from the odd disappointed male suitor via Twitter), but for some, her 8-minute speech was filled with novel ideas and concepts they’ve likely never been exposed to.
Page makes the bold statement that, rather than bending to the standards that she calls “crushing”, set by the entertainment industry, we join together and fight back. She defines those standards as “ideas planted in your head that weren’t there before,” telling you how to dress, or act, or even who to be. “I’ve been trying to push back,” Page stresses, but, “it can be hard.” Returning to praising the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) as she did in the beginning of her speech, she recognizes how little recognition they get for their hard work, when they themselves are fighting the same battles as those they’re working overtime to help.
Seguing from her praise of the HRC, she discusses the socially accepted “norms” for masculinity and femininity, saying sometimes “it’s the little insignificant stuff that can tear you down.” She references a journalist who asked, “Why does this petite beauty insist upon dressing like a massive man?” To which she replied that she likes being comfortable. Page presents the pressure she’s placed under as a young actress in a way anyone who has ever felt judged unfairly can relate to. She recognises beacons of hope in the LGBT community such as Michael Sam, Laverne Cox, and Teagan and Sara, as well as everyday parents who accept their children after they “come out.”
The majority of the coverage of Page’s speech covered the fact that she openly stated her sexuality. However, that doesn’t seem to have been the motivation behind her headline-making actions. She admits to having selfish reasons for the announcement, including “not wanting to hide anymore”, but goes on to stress her sense of social responsibility. Page mentions bullying, rejection, dropouts, and suicides in a list of things she believes we can change by offering love to one another, rather than tearing each other apart. Although, she does recognise the difficulty of truly accepting and praising another’s beauty when someone has yet to accept themselves.
One of her final statements summarizes the real meaning behind her speech: “And I am young, yes. But 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 to a human being. And we deserve to experience love equally, fully, without shame, and without compromise.” This wasn’t a media stunt, set up to lace her “coming out” with a PR storm to benefit her. It was a young woman imploring her community to make, or continue making, an effort to show love to one another. She leaves her audience by thanking them for inspiring her and giving her hope, and asks that they keep changing the world for “people like me.” The HRC thanked her with a standing ovation, her message seemingly heard.
For those who haven’t yet seen Ellen Page’s speech, here it is: