Ellen Page: "I Felt Awkward Around Gay People" Before I Came Out
Ellen Page's heartfelt coming-out speech at the Human Rights Campaign's Time to THRIVE conference wasn't just about being honest with the world—it was about being honest with herself, too. In an interview for the June issue of Canada's Flare magazine, the 27-year-old Juno actress admitted she was "very nervous" and "deeply, deeply emotional" about telling the world she's gay, in part because it brought up some old insecurities.
"You think you're in a place where you're all, 'I'm thrilled to be gay, I have no issues about being gay anymore, I don't feel shame about being gay,' but you actually do. You're just not fully aware of it," she told Flare of her Valentine's Day speech. "I think I still felt scared about people knowing. I felt awkward around gay people; I felt guilty for not being myself."
Ultimately, Page realized that the only way to stop feeling scared was to be open. "The more time went by, the more something just happened, an 'Oh my God—I want to love someone freely and walk down the street and hold my girlfriend's hand,'" she explained.
The X-Men: Days of Future Past star wouldn't reveal any details about past relationships, but she said she'll "always be happy to talk about being gay," if only to prove a point to her critics. "You hear things like, 'People shouldn't know about your life because you're creating an illusion onscreen,'" she told Flare. "But I don't see other actresses going to great lengths to hide their heterosexuality. That's an unfair double standard."
In general, the response to her coming out has been very positive—with a few notable exceptions. One day after her speech in Las Vegas, Page received a handwritten note from a pastor on her plane. "It was the worst kind of homophobia, because it wasn't just 'You deserve to burn in hell,'" she recalled of the content of the letter. "It was 'While God thinks it's lovely that you stood up for your beliefs, perhaps you've never had the loving arms of a father.'"
The Oscar-nominated star responded to the note via Twitter, in a message that was retweeted more than 14,000 times: "2 da Pastor who wrote me—being gay isn't a belief. My soul isn't struggling & I don't want arms of Heavenly Father around me. A girl's arms? Yes."
That incident aside, the actress' experience has been a pleasant surprise. "I expected so much more hate," she admitted. "It was just remarkably positive, which is beautiful, because it's indicative of the change that's happening."