Elliot Page opened up about the isolation and “self-hatred” he experienced growing up, crediting the conversion therapy satire But I’m A Cheerleader with helping him overcome his “shame”.
As they accepted the Outfest Achievement Award on Sunday (22 August), Page said that they didn’t know how they could have made it through the “moments of isolation” if not for the sparse LGBT+ representation they encountered during their youth.
“I, for one, know that without the various representation that I was able to stumble upon as a kid and a teenager — there was very little — I just don’t know if I would have made it,” he said, per Variety.
Page continued: “I don’t know if I would have made it through the moments of isolation and loneliness and shame and self-hatred that was so extreme and powerful and all-encompassing that you could hardly see out of it.”
They recalled stumbling upon the 1999 film But I’m A Cheerleader when they were “flipping through the channels” at the age of 15. Jamie Babbit’s first feature film, it stars Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black) as Megan Bloomfield, a high school cheerleader who gets sent to a conversion therapy camp to cure her lesbianism.
The kids at the camp, True Directions, rebel against the systems trying to oppress them, and Megan develops a romantic relationship with fellow camper Graham (Clea DuVall). The film ends with Megan’s parents attending a meeting of families of queer youth to come to terms with and accept their daughter’s LGBT+ identity.
Elliot Page explained the dialogue and scenes in that film “just transform your life”.
“I almost think we don’t talk enough about how important representation is and enough about how many lives it saves and how many futures it allows for,” he said.
Page said Outfest and similar organisations are completely changing the amount of LGBT+ representation and stories in films.
“And helping get stories out in the world that I know are reaching people in moments where they feel desperately alone and afraid and like they have no sense of community,” Page said.
“And it offers somebody a lifeline. And I know that representation has done that for me.”
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