In a tear-inducing speech at the Time to Thrive conference in Vegas today (which also conveniently happens to be Valentine’s Day), the incredibly talented actress Ellen Page came out of the closet (nay, kicked down the door of that damn closet) and announced that she is gay.
She looked that packed audience of LGBT youth straight in the eyes (no pun intended) and said proudly:
“I’m here today because I am gay”
And the best part is, she didn’t open her speech with that. Because that wasn’t her main message, or the main reason she was there to speak to all those bright young faces. In fact, the second half of that sentence was, “and because maybe I can make a difference.”
And for the good first half of her speech, Ellen talked about the horrible pressure and scrutiny that comes with the “pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we’re all supposed to act, dress and speak,” which she’s seen herself up-close in the industry she, in some sense, represents and which “serve no one.” She talked about how, in the face of that, it is so inspiring to see this group of people come together under the shared “core motivation, the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.”
It’s then that she touches upon a deeply amazing concept that rings true for everyone, not just those in the LGBT community. She said,
“If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences – that’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live.”
Ellen, I could not agree more! This is exactly what I’ve been preaching in my own life, and what I believe makes a real Tough Cookie – someone who embodies both the strong and the sweet. Because being strong isn’t about being bitchy and attacking other women, or trying to knock down the men around you to raise yourself up. It’s about recognizing the beauty in others around you and, most importantly, the beauty in yourself, and then celebrating it and staying true to it.
And that’s exactly what Ellen Page did today.
When she did finally open up her own personal reasons for being there, it sparked an enormously genuine reaction from the crowd (and admittedly from my own eyes) as they all stood up and clapped her on.
“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” she said. “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 that pain.”
Well Ellen, we’re with you girl. And whether gay, straight, or somewhere in between, we’re all so damn happy to have you over here on this happier side with us.
Now that’s what I call one brave-as-hell, truly Tough Cookie!