Representation matters — you’ve heard it before, but this simple truth was underscored by trans actor Elliot Page in his Achievement Award acceptance speech during the closing night of Outfest on Sunday.
Page shared that coming across movies and TV shows with LGBTQ+ storylines helped him navigate and overcome times of “shame and self-hatred” in his life. “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 revealed. “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.”
Page pointed to But I’m a Cheerleader — the Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall film about a teen lesbian being sent to conversion therapy but instead finding love — as one of the films that provided him with much-needed representation when he was a teen. “At 15, when you are flipping through the channels and you stumble on But I’m a Cheerleader and the dialogue in that film, and scenes in that film just transform your life,” he recalls. “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.”
Page also pointed out how “infuriating” it is that we still don’t have the kind of representation we need in the media, but credited Outfest for its role in changing that. “It’s [Outfest] and organizations like yourself that are completely changing that,” he said. “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. And it offers somebody a lifeline. And I know that representation has done that for me.”
Page delivered these remarks virtually as he is currently in Toronto filming season three of The Umbrella Academy.