Ellen Page coming out is news – and so long as gossip websites try and police the way women look and live, these public statements should be celebrated

This will make it harder for young people to bully their LGBTQ peers

Share

On Friday, Ellen Page came out publicly at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive conference in Las Vegas. The star of Juno's eight-minute long speech contained a critique of Hollywood’s repressive standards and a mention of her own struggle and the suffering she underwent while keeping her sexuality a secret.

Her strength and bravery in coming out is not, for me at least, in question. It’s inspiring to have high profile actors, musicians, sports stars and entrepreneurs come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. It makes being part of the LGBTQ community feel less lonely, and not something that should be hidden because you’re afraid of mockery, of not being selected for jobs or of losing friends, contacts and status. The normalization of homosexuality by famous names even makes it harder for young people to bully their LGBTQ peers. I wish Ellen Page had been out when I was a scared twelve-year-old who knew she had to get a boyfriend to fit in and stop the taunts of ‘ugly lesbian bitch’.

Jane Czyzselska writing for the Guardian yesterday is of the opinion that Page’s disclosure “shouldn’t really be news”. I fear that commentators who wish to deny the importance of Page’s speech are rather missing the point. Page’s coming out should be news, as long as we live in a world where homophobia still exists. It should be news because she is giving hope to all of those who are still in the closet, still “lying by omission” and still too afraid to embrace who they are. If we skip over Page’s speech as unimportant, as an irrelevant disclosure, we are downgrading her bravery and failing to recognise how valuable it is for the LGBTQ community when high profile persons decide to be publicly out.

One of the most interesting parts of Page’s declaration was when she addressed the “crushing standards” that Hollywood places on all of us in terms of beauty and success. She mentioned a recent E! article where she was criticised for wearing sweatpants. The writer asked “why does this petite beauty insist upon dressing like a massive man?” and Page answered “because I like to be comfortable”. Why was the E! piece written and published in the first place? It is, of course, irrelevant celebrity gossip. Who cares what Page wears when she’s off to the gym? But it’s also an example of the pernicious and nasty way that magazines, newspapers (you know who you are) and blogs penalise female celebrities for their appearance, twenty four hours, seven days a week. This is a highly gendered form of criticism. E! shamed Page for ‘looking like a man’, as if femininity is something you can measure by the kind of trousers someone is wearing, as if there are concrete rules for how you should look and behave when you belong to a particular gender.

The front page of The Sun today shows a picture of Angelina Jolie wearing a tuxedo. The headline? ‘Brad and Mangelina’. The headline is crass and insulting, as if Angelina has somehow transgressed by wearing a garment that is typically favoured by men, instead of the gown that she ‘should’ have worn. As Simon Amstell says in his stand-up show 'Numb', “maybe your idea of what a girl is supposed to be is quite restrictive”.

In my last piece for Independent Voices, I criticised Shakira and Rihanna’s faux lesbian performance in Shakira’s latest music video. A commenter below wasn’t particularly keen on what I’d written, and stated that I ‘looked like a lesbian’. I think this was meant to insult me, but it provides a great example of how our society likes to shout women down and shame them. Making light of what a woman wears, what she looks like or how ‘feminine’ she is perceived to be isn’t okay. Maybe we should stop reading the appearance-focused, mean-minded gossip columns and allowing their influence to encourage us to believe that it is normal to constantly police ourselves and our bodies. Wear those sweatpants Ellen; I’m really glad you’ve decided to come out.

 

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Showroom Manager - Maternity Cover

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for an Assista...

Recruitment Genius: Java Developer - Birmingham - Jewellery Quarter

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is in the serviced...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Ember JS - Birmingham

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is in the serviced...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Purchaser

£12000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: his is a unique opportunity to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Social housing needs to stop being squeezed into developments as we go along

Ivan Massow
Rachel Hollis posted a photo of herself in a bikini on holiday online with the caption 'I'm proud of this body and every mark on it'  

At last there’s a new ‘bikini body’ ideal – and it’s one with stretch marks

Victoria Richards
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss