“I’m here today because I am gay,” Page told the audience at Bally’s Hotel and Casino during the conference dedicated to promoting safety and inclusion for LGBTQ youth. “And because… maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time.”
With her voice shaking, the 26-year old star of the 2007 indie hit Juno and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past revealed the pressure she felt to conform to Hollywood’s expectations.
“Here I am, an actress, representing – at least in some sense – an industry that places crushing standards on all of us,” she said. “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.”
Page discussed what it felt like to have her appearance scrutinized on gossip websites, recalling an instance where wearing sweatpants to the gym raised eyebrows.
“There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we are all supposed to act, dress and speak. They serve no one,” she said. “Anyone who defies these so-called ‘norms’ becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny. The LGBT community knows this all too well.”
She went on to praise football player Michael Sam, actress Lavern Cox and Tegan and Sarah Quinn for their courage, and hailed the educators and counselors at the conference for their work fighting against those attitudes.
“You’re 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,” she said. “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’s not easy at all. It can be the hardest thing, because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves.”
“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” Page declared toward the end of her speech. “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 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 and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”
Page’s speech prompted a flood of admiring messages from her colleagues in Hollywood:
Props to @EllenPage for helping so many people through their daily struggles by courageously leading by example and coming out on V Day!
— Emile Hirsch (@EmileHirsch) February 15, 2014
Mad mad mad mad mad mad crazy love and praise for @EllenPage today. Congrats to you, you light, talent, and beauty.
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) February 15, 2014
Love love LOVE @EllenPage & the message she sent out today! What a perfect way to end Valentines Day!
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) February 15, 2014