So You Don’t Care About Ellen Page

Ellen Page

So, actress Ellen Page came out this week. How awesome is that?

Wait…what’s that I hear you saying? You don’t give a crap about it? You don’t care one way or the other? It makes no difference to you? Ellen Page is not a hero for coming out?

Well then…aren’t you enlightened. It must be nice to live in such a bubble that you can’t see what enormous guts it took for her to do that. You must have totally glossed over the portion of the video where, for a brief moment anyway, she looks scared to death. What’s that? You didn’t watch it? My bad. Here it is if you’re interested. I watched it and was actually pretty moved.

Look, I know most of us have gay friends at this point and it seems like ‘no big deal.’ They’re out and you still like them, love them in fact. I hear you. I have gay friends too. You know what I’ve never asked most of them though? What was it like to come out? We only think of it from our perspective. When they came out to us it might have been no big deal…to us. BUT…what was it like for THEM?

Perhaps for some of them it really was no big deal, but I know we would also hear lots of stories about sleepless nights, shed tears, fear and doubt. The worrying and wondering: will this or that person still want to talk to me? Will my parents still love me? Will I be in danger of losing my job or bullied at school?  But we largely don’t think of those things because, like a Hollywood actress, they don’t affect us directly.

Ellen Page might not have been your hero this weekend, but I guarantee she was a hero for someone. The backlash of people online is pretty harsh, and one only needs to read the comments of any article that was published about her this weekend to see why visible people coming out is still necessary. I know we are all looking forward to the day where it no longer matters, but guess what? That day is not today, and so yes, it’s news, and yes it’s important.

I had a volunteer gig a few years back where I sat on one end of a phone that people called when they were in crisis. If you’ve ever sat and listened to a young person cry and question their existence for any reason, and you have a heart at all, it would break. Some were gay and contemplating suicide for that reason alone. Even in Canada where we consider ourselves to be more progressive the world can still be a cold, cruel place for gay people, or anyone who is different. The day being gay no longer matters is the day they stop calling the crisis lines. I don’t work there anymore but I suspect if we were to ask the people that do they’d tell us those calls still come in on the regular.

It matters because it may save a life. That’s a farfetched concept to most people who are cynical about seeing celebrities trying to do some good, but not to me. I’ve listened to more than one person’s gay child tell me they want to die. If this saves even one family from having to stand and cry at the grave of their child while the coffin is lowered into the ground her coming out was more than worth it.

So to Ellen Page I say, thank you! Thank you for being brave. Thank you for not just thinking of yourself, but others as well. As far as I’m concerned you’ve done us proud here in Nova Scotia and I admire and salute you. Thank you for being here, and thank you for perhaps helping someone else stick around too. You didn’t have to do it, but you squared your shoulders and did it anyway. That’s my definition of a hero.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “So You Don’t Care About Ellen Page

  1. Excellent article. Don’t stop posting these.

  2. Reblogged this on The Scriptorium and commented:
    Excellent words from a writer-friend.

  3. I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for speaking up.

  4. Fabulous blog. You’re absolutely right. It matters.

  5. Reblogged this on House of Thoth and commented:
    Great article! It takes courage each and everyday for someone in the gay community to try and live comfortably in their own skin. I applaud Ellen for her courage to come out at such an amazing forum where she would attain international exposure. That indeed took courage and bravery to do so. Bravo. Thanks for sharing this Jessica. I have passed it along as well.

  6. About 20 years ago, I would have listed myself as mostly conservative. Eventually, I matured into somewhat liberal but never much cared for that label because with that label, are assumptions and generalizations. But admittedly, I was liberal light. Eventually, I forced myself, as a straight man, to see Brokeback Mountain because if I was going to be a liberal, thats what I should do. A client came out to me around that time, something I had long known but it was when I heard his story, thats when everything changed. I was challenged to move beyond mildly tolerant into dealing with my own baggage, my own bullshit. If I was truly an advocate for people as people, all people, then it was time that I got involved, it was time that I took a stand, first with myself, then with society. Today, I have many lovely gay friends whom I no longer see as gay but rather, I see them for what they have always been, lovely people – pain in the ass people – awesome people – not so awesome people, just like the rest of us. So when I heard the news that Ms Page came out, I was like- “Ive already earned my gay friendly badge”. But then I read your blog and I watched her speech, the tears flowed and I was yet again reminded of how spoiled I am. Thank you for the nudge.

  7. Susan Frampton

    Great insight. Coming out is the hardest thing anyone can do. Will my family still love me, is the biggest question for most of us and in a number of cases we lose our families as soon as the word gay/lesbian comes out of our mouths. The next of go is friends and all those you thought loved you.
    No wonder Ellen was scared, you only had to look at her hands as she twisted them in anguish. It is hard if you are just one of the masses but even harder if you are known. Thankfully she has all of us who have already come out at her back, for now and always.

  8. well like I said to my husbands Aunt, I think what she did is great! it took a LOT of guts. My only thought on the hero aspect is she’s no MORE of a hero than the average “Joe” that comes out.

    I watched the video, her speech was beautiful and moving and very brave and I have no doubt that she’s a lot of peoples hero for exactly that reason, but my friends and yours and my cousin and the average person who’s had to sit down with their family and friends terrified and praying that their world won’t fall apart when they say to them “I’m gay” to me is no less of a hero!

    • While in the grand scheme of things I’d have to agree that no one person is more important than the next, I’d have to say Ellen Page is much different because of the position she’s in. She has the potential to do some good for young people who might be vulnerable. It takes guts for anyone to come out, but some gay kid sitting in his room in the bible belt doesn’t know my friends or your friends. They can’t influence that kid, they don’t have the reach. It’s heroic to be who you are in a world that doesn’t want you to be, and especially for anyone who does something they don’t have to do for the greater good. She has made life better for a lot of people in a way that the average person just can’t. 🙂

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