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.
“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 will kill 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.
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.