Ellen Page’s New Movie Inspired Her Own Coming-Out Story

The actor’s role playing a real-life gay advocate inspired her to be more transparent about her sexual identity.
Sep 3, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

During her emotional coming-out speech at a human rights conference last year, actor Ellen Page criticized the entertainment industry for its unattainable standards of gender, beauty, and success.

Despite the pressure to conform to Hollywood expectations, the 28-year-old Inception star credits her latest film for giving her the courage to come out as a lesbian. In a recent interview with Out magazine, Page said her role portraying real-life gay rights advocate Stacie Andree inspired her to be more transparent about her sexual identity.

“I remember thinking, Ellen, how in God’s name could you make this film and not be out?” she told the magazine about the biopic, Freeheld. “What’s interesting to me is how long it took to make the movie—for it to finally come together—and how my internal progression toward coming out was naturally in line with it.”

Freeheld is based on the true story of the New Jersey couple who overturned a statewide policy limiting the rights of same-sex domestic partners. A campaign led by Laurel Hester, a police lieutenant who died in 2006, led to a reversal that allowed police and fire department employees to transfer pension benefits to their partners, not just legal spouses.
The victory came nearly a decade before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in July, a landmark civil rights ruling that Page championed on social media.

“Stacie and Laurel’s story is incredibly inspiring, and it did take a lot of courage, particularly in a time of such unimaginable difficulty,” Page told Out. “It really did make me go, ‘Dude, just tell people you’re gay. Just get over yourself, honestly, and support those who are not as privileged.’ ”

The Canadian actor, who’s been attached to Freeheld since shortly after her breakout role as a pregnant teenager in 2007’s Juno, plays the partner of Hester, portrayed by Julianne Moore. The film, which is loosely inspired by the Academy Award–winning documentary of the same name, will premiere next week at the Toronto International Film Festival.

It joins several other movies scheduled for release this year that depict LGBT stories based on real people and historical events. Others include The Danish Girl, about one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery, and Stonewall, about the 1969 gay rights riots in New York City.