Ellen Page came out two years ago during a speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive event in February 2014. “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,” Page said. “Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.”
She added, “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 all that pain.”
Speaking at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Page echoed those sentiments when asked whether she thought coming out hurt her career.
“You know, truly and honestly, it’s hard for me to know. I’m not in rooms where people are making decisions of who to send what to, and the truth is, I’m absolutely not focusing on it,” Page said. “Because being in the closet hurt my career way more than being out and being happy and feeling inspired again, being able to fuse my authentic self with creative interests, and that wasn’t something I could do.”
Since coming out, Page starred in and produced Freeheld and also created Gaycation, a new Viceland show she made with her longtime friend Ian Daniel. While both projects have an LGBTQ focus, the actress said she often bristles at being asked about “doing this thing that’s gay and this thing that’s gay.”
“You would never even bring that up with a straight person. You would not say, ‘Oh, you’re doing another movie where you play a straight person, are you a little worried about it?’” Page said. “And no judgment, I’m just saying these are the standards and this is the conversation that needs to change, you know? It really does.”
Page said she felt grateful to make Gaycation, which takes the actress to cities around the world to explore LGBTQ culture. But if she were still in the closet, Page added, the series would not exist.
“Let’s think about how much that limits people, or limits people of all minorities who are not given opportunities to create work,” she said. “We do a job that’s about telling stories. Obviously it’s imperative — we can’t just be telling stories about one group of people. People need to have opportunity, and that’s what’s going to make the whole industry grow and blossom. And a person who’s involved with it, and a person who’s an audience member, I really hope that starts to happen. It’s just something I’ve been reflecting on, as to, ‘Oh, what if I hadn’t come out?’”
Gaycation airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Viceland.