Despite a New Yorker spitting at her, Ellen Page loves being out and her first gay role in ‘Freeheld’
By Amy Kaufman | latimes.com
“I’m freezing,” Ellen Page said, tucking her hands inside her sleeves. She shrank down in a conference room chair, looking pained until a hotel attendant arrived with a pot of tea.
“I needed to heat up,” she said, cupping the drink in her palms. As she drank, she suddenly appeared less small. Her clothing no longer enveloped her. She held her shoulders back and made forceful eye contact.
Page, 28, has recently become acutely aware of how she carries her body. In the year and a half since she publicly came out as a lesbian, her posture has morphed. There’s less hunching over now, less looking at the ground.
“People close to me keep remarking on how different I am now,” she said. “And honestly, my body was different. I think I had just become really closed off. It’s a feeling that existed within me. Shame, I think. The word would be ‘shame.'”
Letting go of that feeling has proved transformative for the actress, who rose to fame in 2007 as the fast-talking pregnant teenager in “Juno.” She does not feel the need to hide who she is dating anymore; last month she walked down a red carpet with her girlfriend of nine months, visual artist Samantha Thomas. And for the first time she’s playing a gay character in a movie.
That film is “Freeheld,” which opened in theaters Friday. The movie is based on the story of Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police lieutenant who fought to leave her pension benefits to her partner, Stacie Andree, while battling stage four lung cancer in 2005. Hester, played by Julianne Moore, repeatedly saw her request denied by five elected Ocean County officials called freeholders. Page, who produced the project, has the role of Andree.
Coming out has clearly liberated Page, but she was cautious when talking about LGBT issues, choosing her words carefully so as not to offend. She repeatedly emphasized how privileged she was and listed statistics about homeless LGBT youth and the low life expectancy for transgender women of color. She downplayed any hatred spewed her way — sometimes quite literally — explaining that it’s relatively insignificant in comparison to the positive feedback she gets.
On Twitter, for instance, she is regularly told that she is “going to go to hell” or she should “just find a man.”
“I’m on Twitter and I’m gay, and I talk about gay rights, so that’s what’s going to happen. And it’s very minimal. Part of me is like, I don’t even want to give it the time of day. As a gay person living in Los Angeles, I get to do a job that I love that’s given me — let’s just be honest — money. I think it really is easy to forget what a lot of LGBT people face.”
She had a stark reminder recently while walking in New York City’s East Village with her arm around her girlfriend. A man spit on the couple, she said, imitating how he aggressively hocked a loogie in their direction.
“He was so loud,” she said. “Like, so loud I can’t explain it. It was actually really scary.”
Even so, she stressed, she wished she’d come out years ago.
“I look back now, and I’m like, ‘What was I so afraid of?’ But I was really scared. And what a ridiculous thing to be feeling. It got to a place where it actually felt wrong. It was unequivocally not only the right thing to do — but the thing to do. To be out. So I could live my life and be happy and be in relationships and be happy. And I couldn’t be happier. I could not be happier. I don’t know why I waited so long.”
Read the full interview at latimes.com