Less than a week after University of Missouri football player and NFL draft prospect Michael Sam announced to the world that he is gay, actress Ellen Page also decided it was time to step out of the closet. During an emotional speech delivered during the Human Rights Campaign’s inaugural “Time to THRIVE” conference on Valentine’s Day, the Oscar-nominated entertainer announced to an audience of about 600 that she is gay. Ellen Page used her time on stage to open up to attendees about coming out, stating that she feels both “a personal obligation and a social responsibility” to the LGBT community.
“I draw upon your strength and your support, and have, in ways you will never know,” the actress shared while delivering an impactful and emotional message to the conference crowd. Page, perhaps best known for playing a pregnant teen in the 2007 hit Juno (which earned the then 20-year-old an Oscar nomination for Best Actress), began her acting career at the age of ten when she appeared in the award-winning television series Pit Pony. The star has since added nearly 40 acting credits to her resume, including starring roles in box office blockbusters Inception and X-Men. After announcing to the group of “Time to THRIVE” LGBT supporters that she is gay, Page shared her hopes to make a difference in the lives of other people struggling with their sexual orientation.
Founded in 1980, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is now the world’s leading civil rights organization. The HRC has committed to working toward equality for LGBT Americans and represents a national member and supporter base of a reported 1.5 million. Since sharing Page’s conference speech on their website, the HRC has urged LGBT advocates to show their support for the emboldened actress, reminding readers that coming out in any capacity is an individual journey that is “deeply personal” and often very difficult. The organization shared its reaction to Page’s message, stating on their website that the young actresses strong spirit “sets a powerful example for LGBT and allied youth around the world.”
“Loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves,” Ellen Page stated during her speech after opening up about the personal struggles she faced before coming out. The actress shared the sentiment of many members of the LGBT community when she said that everyone, regardless of orientation, deserves to experience equality, “without shame and without compromise.”
Despite increased awareness around LGBT equality, a recent survey conducted by the HRC revealed some troubling statistics. An estimated 42 percent of LGBT youth reported not feeling accepted by their community. A staggering 92 percent stated that they have heard troubling or negative messages about being LGBT, and LGBT youth are twice as likely as their non-LGBT peers to report being kicked, shoved, or otherwise physically abused at school. However, about 72 percent of LGBT youth stated that “they know things will get better,” with three-quarters of the group stating that their peers do not seem to have a problem with their sexual orientation, according to HRC.
Since opening up about coming out, Ellen Page has received an outpouring of support from celebrities and LGBT advocates. The actress, who received a standing ovation from HRC conference-goers after her announcement, recently took to Twitter to share her thanks.
By Katie Bloomstrom