Ellen Page Opens Up About the Hollywood Pressure to Not Come Out

“I was distinctly told by people in the industry when I started to become known: ‘People cannot know you’re gay.’”

Caitlin Cronenberg

In 2014, while making the film Freeheld with Julianne Moore, Ellen Page came out, very publicly. “I’m here today because I am gay,” the then-26-year-old actor told a crowd at a Human Rights Campaign conference in Las Vegas. “I am tired of hiding, and I am tired of lying by omission.” In a subsequent interview with Out, she attributed the move, at least in part, to her role in the film, explaining that “lots of stuff surfaced” during the production. “I remember thinking, ‘Ellen, how in god’s name could you make this film and not be out?’”

Five years later, for a new interview with Porter, Page is looking back, recalling the pressures placed on her by the film industry not to come out. After her smash success with 2007’s Juno, Page booked films like Whip It, Inception, and The East—but as her name became better known, she “was distinctly told by people in the industry,” she tells Porter, “‘People cannot know you’re gay.’”

“I was pressured—forced, in many cases—to always wear dresses and heels for events and photo shoots,” she went on. “As if lesbians don’t wear dresses and heels. But I will never let anyone put me in anything I feel uncomfortable in ever again.”

Before Page came out on her own terms, there was widespread tabloid speculation about her sexuality, which she says “was very detrimental to my mental health.” She was 20 years old and “had just fallen in love for the first time with a woman, and I was still navigating my own stuff,” she recalled, when headlines started to surface: “Ellen Page’s Sexuality Sweepstake,” “Is Ellen Page Gay?” It was something she had to grapple with in less public-facing ways too; in late 2017, she accused the now-disgraced X-Men director Brett Ratner of sexually harassing her and outing her during a cast event (Page plays Kitty Pryde in the franchise). As she recounted in a Facebook post, Ratner turned to an older woman standing near Page and told her, “You should f–k her to make her realize she’s gay.” Page was 18 at the time.

Now 32, Page is married to the dancer and choreographer Emma Portner and is focused on improving representation in her projects, both thematically and behind the camera. “I want to make queer content,” she said. “I want to be able to help in any way I can.”