Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ellen Page & Coming Out

On Valentine's Day 2014, Ellen Page came out as gay. If you listen hard enough, you can still hear queer ladies celebrating, sharing her speech, reblogging pictures of her on tumblr, and creating hundreds of GIFS out of her movies (Juno, Whip It, Hard Candy, Inception, etc).

But aside from my own personal excitement, this Valentine's Day announcement sparked a lot of interesting conversations surrounding Page's coming out, what it means, and why it matters. Beside the positive support, the most popular reaction I heard to this news was something along the lines of "Why is everybody making such a big deal about Ellen Page coming out?". This question is usually followed by something sweet like "I think we're past the point of having to make coming out a huge thing, you know?". And then it ends with something like, "If people keep making a big deal about it, then it's going to continue to be a big deal."

Unfortunately, despite the advancements the LGBTQ+ community has made in recent history, coming out is still a big deal. I think people think that since gay marriage is being legalized in many states, that "Born This Way" has become such an anthem (no thanks though), and that Ellen Degeneres has become such a success since she came out in 1997, that it's now relatively easy to come out now. People like to think that we live in a world where everything is beautiful and homophobia and transphobia have disappeared into the corners of Westburo and mainstream society is a-okay with everything rainbows and glitter. Wrong.

When we step away from Hollywood and into the world of the NFL, we meet Michael Sam, a recently openly gay football player. Since coming out at the beginning of this month, many of Sam's fellow NFL members have stated that his sexuality might become a problem in the locker room, as well as others saying his sexuality will affect his skills as a football player. When we take a step away from celebrities and athletes and look at our own lives and realities, we can still see that there's a lot of ignorance surrounding queer identities. Queer youth are still being kicked out of their homes, queer people are still being murdered, and there's still plenty of people who are telling the world that, no, it's not okay to be gay. 

Maybe Ellen Page's career won't suffer. Maybe she'll gain more fame for being openly gay and people will write more queer films just so they can cast her (*crosses fingers*). But coming out is still a big deal. Ellen Page has been closeted and afraid for years. Michael Sam's coming out was controversial. Queer people still face hardships and serious consequences for coming out to unaccepting families members, employers, and friends. By queer celebrities coming out, they're not only taking a brave step in their own lives, but they are creating more representation for our community, which is so so so so important. 

Of course, in terms of representation, the media still has a lot of work to do (bisexuality, non-binary folks, trans* folks, asexuality, etc., etc.). But I'd just like to congratulate Ellen Page on being brave, and I hope that yes, one day heterosexuality won't be the "default" sexuality, and coming out won't be necessary at all. Until then, YOU GO, ELLEN PAGE!

Rock on, my friends. 


No comments:

Post a Comment