Jill Layton
September 02, 2015 12:02 pm

Even though coming out as gay is way more accepted now than it was not so long ago, announcing your sexuality to the world is still not always an easy thing to do — especially for people in the public eye. For many, when they decide not to publicly announce their sexual preference, it may not be because they are ashamed, but because it’s frankly just none of anyone’s business.

Ellen Page seems to have been one of those people. She was living her life as a gay woman, but didn’t find it necessary to shout it from the rooftops — until she did find it necessary. Page was working on Freehelda movie starring Page and Julianne Moore, that is based on the true story of a lesbian couple fighting a legal battle for domestic partnership rights in New Jersey, when she realized that not coming out as a lesbian was detrimental to herself and the LGBTQ community.

Page came out publicly during an incredibly moving speech she gave at a Human Rights Campaign conference in 2014, and she recently talked to Out magazine about what inspired her to come out. “I remember thinking, ‘Ellen, how in God’s name could you make this film and not be out?'” Page said. “What’s interesting to me is how long it took to make the movie — for it to finally come together — and how my internal progression toward coming out was naturally in line with it. Stacie and Laurel’s story is incredibly inspiring and did take a lot of courage, particularly in a time of such unimaginable difficulty. It really did make me go, ‘Dude, just tell people you’re gay. Just get over yourself, honestly, and support those who are not as privileged. It’s like, You have f-cking privilege, so do something with it.'”

Moore added that she learned a lot from Page about how damaging being closeted can be to one’s emotional and mental well-being. “It was interesting for me, because Ellen had just so recently come out [when we started filming],” she said. “And this is going to sound silly, and hopefully not hurtful on my part, but I don’t think I was aware of how painful it is to be closeted. I have the advantage of being a person who’s never had to hide my sexuality, so I asked her a lot of questions — frank questions — about what that feels like. She said she felt discomfort simply wearing all these dresses, and it was all very eye-opening for me. She was so unprotective [of herself] — I was very touched by that. It definitely made me more sensitive to the nuances of our movie.”

Page’s influence, as well as her eloquence when it comes to issues of equality, is not to be underestimated. In another recent interview, she raised a valid point about changing the way we talk about sexual orientation in film.

“When people are [called] brave in regards to playing LGBTQ people, that’s borderline offensive,” the actress told TIME. “I’m never going to be considered brave for playing a straight person, and nor should I be.”

She raises an important point: That double standard in Hollywood is just another example of how far we still have to go when it comes to educating people about issues of equality. But talking about these issues in a smart way makes a huge impact, and that’s exactly what Ellen is doing—both on and off camera.

Her new movie, Freeheld, is set to be released on October 2, and after watching the trailer, we’ve already packed our tissue boxes.

(Featured image via Zero Media/YouTube)

Related:

Don’t call Ellen Page brave—here’s why

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