And I have to confess I’m always surprised when someone coming out is news. It seems the most normal thing in the world to me to love another human being. And if it’s so normal, why do we turn celebrity announcements into headlines?
But I know that I’m always surprised because I’ve never had to come out. I’ve never had to call my parents into a room and sit them down and explain to them, carefully and tearfully that I am straight. I’ve never had to live for years in fear that they might find out I’m straight. I endured all the usual teasing in school from people who called me gay, as thought it were some kind of insult, but it never really bothered me because I knew I was straight and I had nothing to worry about.
“I suffered for years because I was scared to be out,” Page said in her speech. “My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered.” Later, she added, “It can be the hardest thing, because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. I know many of you have struggled with this.”
This is something society has never demanded I struggle with. So I have the privilege of believing that love is love no matter what, without any of the fear so many have had to attach to their love, of themselves as well as others.
And this is why this is news. This is why Page’s announcement is so important: it and all the others like it can help dispel that fear.
“And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain,” Page said. “I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”
This blog of mine isn’t about sexuality or social commentary; it’s about writing and teaching. But I can think of few things more worthy of sharing than the words Ellen Page wrote down and spoke aloud today. Including these: “I’m here today because I am gay. And because maybe I can make a difference.”
I started writing this as a simple post to share on my Facebook page. Then I noticed I had my privacy settings on a limited group, and I switched them to my default setting, which is Friends only. But then I thought about what Page said about why she was coming out — that she hoped she could make a difference in reassuring others, in helping alleviate the fear of something no one should be afraid of — and I realized that if I was going to share her words, I needed to share them with a MUCH wider audience. Because I have no idea what it’s like to come out, or to be gay, and I don’t have the personal experience it takes to help make the kind of difference Page is making.
But I know what it is to love. And as Page says, we ALL “deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”