Oscar-nominated actress and self-described “tiny Canadian” Ellen Page (Inception, The East, Juno) came out as a gay woman on Valentine’s Day.
She made the announcement in a moving speech delivered at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s inaugural Time to Thrive conference in Las Vegas. You can watch the 26-year-old actress’s remarks above. Here is an excerpt:
I’m inspired to be in this room because every single one of you is here for the same reason. You’re here because you’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences. That’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives.
Then again, it’s not easy at all. It can be the hardest thing, because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. I know many of you have struggled with this. I draw upon your strength and your support in ways that you will never know.
I’m here today because I am gay. And because…maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.
I also do it selfishly, because I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. 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. I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.
There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated because of who they are. Too many dropouts. Too much abuse. Too many homeless. Too many suicides. You can change that and you are changing it.
But you never needed me to tell you that. That’s why this was a little bit weird. The only thing I can really say is…what I have been building up to for the past 5 minutes. Thank you. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for giving me hope, and please keep changing the world for people like me.
Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.
After her speech, Page received the following show of support from House of Cards star Kate Mara:
“@_KateMara: Hey @EllenPage…Be my Valentine? #respect” yes please
— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) February 15, 2014
(As flagged by TheWrap, Page satirized lesbian rumors about her in a 2008 Saturday Night Live sketch.)
Page is set to star alongside Julianne Moore and Zach Galifianakis in Freeheld, an upcoming drama based on the true story of the late Laurel Hester, a terminally ill New Jersey police lieutenant who fought a long battle to pass on pension benefits to her female domestic partner. Page, a proud feminist, has long been a supporter of marriage equality and LGBT rights. She is also passionate about climate action, reproductive rights, and raising awareness about human rights abuses in Burma. Here’s a video for the US Campaign for Burma from 2008, in which she declares, “Hitler is alive in Burma”: