The Awesome Power of Elliot Page

NOTE: The original 2014 version of this post was titled “Ellen Page is Our Queer Sister” and is included below, unchanged.

In December of 2020, the Oscar-nominated star of Juno and Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy Elliot Page came out as trans.

“Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot,” he wrote in a message posted on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self. I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society.”

This announcement makes Page the first trans actor nominated for an Oscar after Yance Ford, the director of the documentary Strong Island, became the first-ever trans filmmaker to be nominated in 2018.

Page added that, “despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I’m scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the ‘jokes’ and the violence.” He goes on to highlight the alarming statistics of discrimination and violence against the trans community, writing that, “In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women.” He also highlights the fact that 40% of trans adults report attempting suicide and speaks directly to celebrities and public figures who spew anti-trans hate: “You have blood on your hands…Enough is enough. You aren’t being ‘canceled,’ you are hurting people. I am one of those people and we won’t be silent in the face of your attacks.”

He concluded, “I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive. To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse, and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you, and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.”

Elliot Page will be the first high-profile celebrity to transition during his career. Other trans celebs like Laverne Cox and Gigi Gorgeous had already transitioned before hitting the spotlight. So I will be curious to see how Hollywood addresses Elliot’s past roles, including his current role as a female character on The Umbrella Academy. We don’t want to discredit his awesome performances of the past or the activism he did before he came out as trans, and to that end, I have chosen to include the original version of this post below with his previous name and pronouns. That might be the wrong decision, but I also feel funny about heavily editing past content to reflect present updates. That was true then, this is true now.

I want Hollywood to struggle over Elliot a little bit — because the industry needs to stumble over this and learn how to be better. There will be fuck-ups, misgendering, and cringeworthy interviews. Elliot knows this. He’s bravely paving the way for future trans and nonbinary performers to come out during their careers. He knows the enormity of asking the public and his legions of fans to see him differently and use different pronouns. This process is painful and private for many trans folks and Elliot is choosing to do it publicly in order to drive progress forward.

Thank you, Elliot, for being fearless and being good. You are one of the greats.

Love, Beastly

ORIGINAL POST

Ellen Page has made an announcement: she’s going to be in the next X-Men movie: X-Men: Days of Future Past. And she’s gay.

The actress came out yesterday during her speech at the opening ceremony of the Human Rights Campaign-sponsored “Time to THRIVE” conference in Las Vegas.

“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” she said, to thunderous applause. “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.”

Wow. It was such a powerful moment, and such a needed one. Her words struck me, as they did countless others, as brutally familiar. We all know what the closet was like, how crushing it felt. It kills you. Maybe not right away, but “lying by omission” will turn into stress, depression, anxiety, and countless other problems that will make you sick. I understand the emotional and psychological need to denounce it, to tell a room full of people the truth.

Ellen joins the ranks of many young actors and celebrities that have recently come out. Not long ago, celebrities waited until after the most successful part of their careers had happened before coming out. Examples of this are Jodie Foster, Richard Chamberlain, Alan Cumming, Sean Hayes, Michael Stipe, Ricky Martin, Jim Nabors, Victor Garber, Nathan Lane and Maurice Sendak.

But that’s changing. Celebs like Jim Parsons, 39, from the Big Bang Theory came out two years ago. Zachary Quinto, Chris Colfer, and Jonathan Groff are all out young celebs. Sean Maher, 36, came out in Entertainment Weekly in 2011.

Tom Daley came out recently in a self-made video that hit Tumblr like a wave of glory and cheering, and subsequently an explosion of funny fan-made gifs like this one. (Here is another one.) And, of course, there’s Neil Patrick Harris and Adam Lambert.

This movement of coming out younger was led by pioneers like Ellen DeGeneres, Lance Bass (who came out at 27, the same age as Ellen Page) and Sir Elton John, who, in one of the boldest moves in music history, came out in Rolling Stone in 1976.

The times they are a-changin’. People in the spotlight are discovering more and more that they can come out without destroying their careers. Which is why we need to applaud Ellen Page and stars like her for announcing publicly their membership in a population that, in 2014, is still fighting for our rights.

Image
This might have been a hint.

By coming out, she says to the kids trapped in homophobic families that there is a place for them — in pop culture, in blockbuster hits like the X-Men franchise, and in the public spotlight.

Watch the video of her speech. It’s worth it.

Love, Beastly

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