Ellen Page Reveals How Hollywood Pressured Her to Stay ‘In the Closet’
Although many consider Hollywood a liberal mecca, coming out as an LGBTQ actor or actress is still not always welcome, according to a recent interview Ellen Page gave.
Ellen Page is recognized as a high-profile actress and voice for the LGBTQ community—but her relatively recent journey there was not easy in an industry that still grapples with homosexuality.
The 32-year-old Oscar-nominated actress (for 2007’s Juno) recently told PorterEdit that she was pressured by Hollywood execs to stay quiet about her sexuality throughout the beginning of her career, to the point where her mental health was gravely impacted.
This was in an age where there were already prominent LGBTQ stars such as Ellen Degeneres and Neil Patrick Harris, who were gracing the screens of popular culture regularly and accepted by wide audiences.
“I was distinctly told, by people in the industry, when I started to become known: ‘People cannot know you’re gay,’” Page told the publication. “And I was pressured—forced, in many cases—to always wear dresses and heels for events and photo shoots.”
The actress, who is now happily married to 24-year-old dancer and choreographer Emma Portner, didn’t come out in Hollywood until 2014, nearly seven years after she rose to prominence for her role in the movie Juno.
But the speculation that followed Page throughout that time was extremely destructive, especially considering the complications of her own private self-discovery.
“I was 20, I had just fallen in love for the first time with a woman, and I was still navigating my own stuff, while people were writing articles headlined: ‘Ellen Page’s sexuality sweepstake.’ There was a tabloid magazine that I saw at every checkout, in every gas station, with a picture of me on the cover, and the question: ‘Is Ellen Page gay?’” Page recalled to PorterEdit. “It was very detrimental to my mental health.”
When she was just 18, the actress was outed on set by her X-Men: The Last Stand director Brett Ratner, which added to her cruel experiences as a closeted woman in Hollywood. Although she admits that it has gotten better for people in the industry to come out today, she assures that there’s still a lot that needs to change.
“I remember being in my early 20s and really believing it was impossible for me to come out. But, over time, with more representation, hearts and minds have been changed,” Page told PorterEdit. “It doesn’t happen quickly enough and it hasn’t happened enough, particularly for the most marginalized in the community. But things have got better.”
Now, Page is doing her part in order to make things better by working on projects that represent the LGBTQ community—such as her upcoming Netflix limited Tales of the City, her previous film Freeheld and her Viceland show “Gaycation”.
“I feel a sense of responsibility,” Page said. “I want to be able to help in any way I can, and I want to make queer content.”
Indeed, even for observers who are not gay or knowledgeable of the film industry, it’s sadly unsurprising that being openly gay could be seen as a detriment in Page’s field. After all, stars, filmmakers, agents, and everyone involved in the entertainment industry cannot deny the pressure for commercial appeal. One can only imagine the fears of offending large segments of the population that are still wary or unsympathetic towards homosexuality, and how that would compromise financial returns. Although Hollywood is often viewed as a liberal mecca, the irony is that it’s an industry that relies on mass appeal—including to those who are are not yet supportive of LGBTQ representation in Hollywood.