On Valentine’s Day 2014, Ellen Page came out as a gay woman. The “Juno” star was speaking at a Human Rights Campaign event benefiting LGBT youth. In a new interview with Glamour, Page reveals that her role in the upcoming lesbian drama “Freeheld” with Julianne Moore inspired her to publicly announce her sexual identity.
“Freeheld” is based on the true story of Laurel Hester (Moore), a terminally ill police lieutenant who fought for the right to have her pension benefits transferred to her domestic partner Stacie Andree (Page).
Page, who also worked as a producer on the film, watched Cynthia Wade’s 2007 Oscar-winning documentary short on the couple at a time when she herself was “super closeted.” “I was so moved, so unbelievably moved,” she said. Page decided that she “wanted to be involved.” And she couldn’t bear the alternative: telling Hester and Andree’s story while continuing to keep her own sexuality a secret. “I thought, how can I make this film if I’m a closeted person? Keeping that part of myself hidden was affecting my work, my ambition, my relationships. It was a constant burden — it was so toxic. As a gay woman, playing a gay character is a pretty monumental moment.”
Of Hester and Andree’s legacy, Page’s co-star and onscreen love Moore commented: “These women were forerunners of this year’s [Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage]. They were very regular people. Laurel was a detective, and Stacie a mechanic. And for the first time in their lives, they were public about their sexuality in a way that they hadn’t wanted to be. So what they did was major. They really put themselves on the line.”
Page, too, put herself on the line on Valentine’s Day last year. Her moving speech — which, in addition to broaching the subject of her lesbianism, addressed bullying, body image and gender stereotypes — is well worth watching (or re-watching).
“Freeheld” will make its world premiere at TIFF in September and open in theaters September 2.
“Freeheld” opens October 2.