Ellen Page, This Generation's Gay A-Lister

The Entertainers: Ellen Page is proving you don't have to be straight to be a leading lady.

BY Tracy E Gilchrist

August 20 2014 4:00 AM ET

Ellen Page, 27
Los Angeles
@EllenPage

An Oscar nominee for 2007’s Juno and an all-around beloved actress in films ranging from the subversive indie Hard Candy to blockbusters including Inception and the X-Men films, Ellen Page once skewered the gay rumors about her in a Saturday Night Live sketch in which she became transformed by the sights, smells, and sounds of a Melissa Etheridge concert.

But when Page spoke the words “I’m here because I’m gay” to LGBT youth at a conference in Las Vegas on Valentine’s Day of this year, the news, while not entirely a surprise, was revelatory. Page, a bona fide A-lister still very much at the start of her career, proceeded to follow that up with a thoughtful, honest, tear-jerking speech about the shame of being in the closet.

“Maybe I can help others to have an easier time," Page said. "I am tired of hiding, and I'm tired of lying by omission.” To have said she was "lying" is still a stark contrast to the way more celebrities come out these days while simultanesouly implying they hadn't necessarily concealed anything, or while downplaying coming out's impact. The process is surely different for each of us, even in Hollywood. For Page, “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 that pain.”

Since her big announcement Page has continued to publicly embrace her identity, speaking candidly about being gay at the GLAAD Awards, on Ellen DeGeneres’s show, and on ultra-mainstream fare like Good Morning America. And she’s done it all while rocking her super-sexy tomboy wardrobe — her personal style being something she feels freer to share now that she’s out, she has said.

Although coming out has thrust Page into the role of spokeswoman for young queer women in Hollywood and beyond, she also remains a first-rate artist and producer. While she’s currently shooting Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest with fellow out actress Evan Rachel Wood, Page’s next film, her passion project, elucidates her dedication to telling, not merely her own story, but universal stories of LGBT people.

The 27-year-old will produce and star in the narrative film Freeheld, based on the documentary of the same name about a lesbian police officer diagnosed with terminal cancer who fights to have her pension transferred to her partner. It may not seem like all that bold a move on the surface, but Freeheld marks the first time an A-list actress will produce and star in a lesbian-themed film, and Page is just the woman for the job.

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