In a week of sweeping wins and surprise announcements in the LGBT community, actress Ellen Page, of Juno fame, comes out and the state of Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage gets struck down by a federal Judge. The movement to gain equal rights for the LGBT community has been making headlines lately, with even all-American football star Michael Sam coming out with overwhelming support from his coaches and team mates. The University of Missouri defensive lineman could possibly be the first openly gay player that the NFL drafts.
Page referred to Sam as a hero, citing him and other stars as inspiration. The inspiration is promising for gay communities around the country. Part of a same-sex marriage ban has been lifted in Kentucky and a ban in Indiana may not even make it onto the ballot in November. The provision for the Kentucky ban orders the state to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. This is huge because it points to a trend developing in surrounding southern states to stay away from bans altogether.
It could not have been easy for the young Page to make her brave announcement. The timing seems ideal as she chose the youth conference, “Time to Thrive” as her venue. The event was a perfect platform for her to reach out to gay youths and to free herself of a painful and long held burden of what she referred to as, “denial by omission.” The diminutive actress stood tall as she poured out an emotional speech that has itself become an inspiration to others, as key points of it have been tweeted and re-tweeted since Friday night.
The Las Vegas event, sponsored by the gay advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, found its attendees standing on its collective feet and giving the Page a rousing standing ovation. Page along NFL promising candidate Sam and same-sex marriage seekers across the nation can look forward to even greater points being scored as more and more support is being shown for people of varying sexual orientation. Even Facebook has turned a proverbial corner by now offering a myriad of identity options in its profile category.
Globally, it is a mixed bag as far as the progression of gay rights is concerned. Many eyes are on the Winter Olympics currently taking place in Sochi, Russia. There is a strong resistance to the acceptance of gay rights there and in some areas of India and Africa; homosexuality has been outlawed altogether with death being the ultimate punishment in some cases.
The other big injustices to many gay rights seekers and their supporters, is the denial of basic rights to love who they want freely and to receive benefits equal to that of heterosexual couples and individuals. Viewed from that perspective, it really isn’t hard to see why changes are needed across the board to ensure everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or even race, gets a fair shake.
As a global community, the world at large has a very long way to go in its efforts to improve the quality of life for all. Of course, not everyone is on board and some have no vested interest in fairness, justice, or unification. That is a painful realization, but most certainly not a good enough reason to halt the forward momentum of positive change that is sweeping the nation in fits and starts.
There is a genuine effort by many to continue on in spite of the push back. This courageous young starlet has now become a blazing inspiration to so many others who have suffered, and hopefully her decision to come out will make the difference she is hoping for. It is also hopeful that Page and others like her, including those seeking same-sex marriages, will continue to see scores being made for the LGBT community.
Op-Ed By Mai Nowlin