This past Friday, Valentine’s Day, Ellen Page spoke for just over eight minutes at the Human Rights Campaign event known as “Time to THRIVE”. It’s a three-day conference that HRC is looking to make an annual event, and it focuses on “promoting safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth”. As Page took the stage, she began praising the HRC and those attending the conference, then by examining the industry she is so deeply a part of, saying that the film industry can sometimes “tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress, and who you have to be.”. This is of course true for some, and not for others. But in a time when things like body image are a huge topic in Hollywood, it’s hard not to admit that she has a valid point. Page wasn’t there to combat the issues of body image in Hollywood though, but a social issue that is possibly even bigger and more controversial at the moment, both in entertainment, politics, and around the dinner table — sexual orientation. Her sexual orientation to be specific.
— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) February 15, 2014
I should probably say here that any opinions expressed here are completely my own, and not meant to be the opinion of any of the Free For All staff or our partners. That being said, sexual orientation, LBGTQ rights, and marriage equality are all as much a subject of passion for me as the films, shows, and games I usually write about any other day. While I am straight, I have had the misfortune, or fortune, depending on how you look at it, to see first hand how hard it can be for LGBTQ individuals to live their lives free from fear of judgement. And while I’ll never quite know how that feels personally, I am privileged to have both friends and family who are gay, and wanting them to find acceptance with the people most important in their lives has made me an aggressively strong advocate for equal rights and marriage equality.
And it is also why I believe that Ellen Page taking a stand, and not simply letting others assume; her stating unequivocally that she is gay, is so important. It shows other young people, Page being only 26 herself, that it’s alright to be who you are. She even says in her speech “Maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.”. And whether it be about sexual orientation, human rights, body image, racism, intolerance, or any other social issue of our time, shouldn’t we want this from all the celebrities we admire? To take a stand and say that they want to lead by example, and not just about which shoes to wear, or what auto insurance you should buy, but about how to be a better person… or at the very least, not a shitty one.
To prevent further editorializing on my part, I encourage you to listen to Ellen Page’s speech in its entirety (below). And regardless of your feelings and opinions on homosexuality and its place in our society, just try to remember that Ellen Page could be telling us to do a million different things, and she choose to tell us to accept one another, and to help one another get from point A to point B in life with as little pain as possible. And that’s awesome.