With the release of her new film, Freeheld, Ellen Page continues to show the world why she has become such an inspiration for so many. The Canadian-born actress, who recently walked the red carpet of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), was given Human Rights Campaign’s Vanguard Award for 2015 at a dinner October 3, 2015.
It has been a little over a year since Ellen Page came out to an audience at the HRC Time to THRIVE conference, and she says that since then, she feels happier than she’s ever truly felt. She also told Time that she felt that being called brave for playing a gay character was almost insulting.
“When people are [called] brave in regards to playing LGBTQ people, that’s borderline offensive. I’m never going to be considered brave for playing a straight person, and nor should I be,” Ellen Page noted.
In coming out on Valentine’s Day 2014, Ellen Page said that she was able to move beyond the depression she had felt for a very long time. In accepting the 2015 HRC Vanguard Award, Ellen Page noted that she could still recall the incredible pain she was in prior to coming out.
In Freeheld, Ellen Page is further trying to support LGBTQ rights by helping tell the story of Stacie Andree and Laurel Hester, a couple who were fighting to have Hester transfer her pension benefits to her domestic partner Andree upon her death from lung cancer. The film is receiving some Oscar buzz, particularly for the song “Hands of Love,” which is sung by Miley Cyrus, and for Ellen Page’s co-star Julianne Moore, who played Hester to Ellen Page’s Stacie Andree.
To be sure, Ellen Page has proven an inspiration to many in the short time since she publicly came out.
She continues to astound with her frank discussions about how far she herself has come as a result of coming out, and she has made no secret of her desire to see more stories like Freeheld.
“I want to see gay stories, of course, because I’m gay, and I want to connect to a reflection of my life on film,” Ellen Page said during her interview with Time. “You’re seeing actors that, if (Orange is the New Black) didn’t exist, we might not have ever seen—that are extraordinary. It makes me excited because the whole reason to go to a film is to disappear into another world, and to have your humanity connect with someone else’s, who you might not ever meet in your life!”
Ellen Page was equally impassioned when she accepted the 2015 HRC Vanguard Award.
“I was happier than I ever could have imagined,” she said about her experience in coming out at the Human Rights Campaign Time to THRIVE conference. “You feel excited about life, and motivated and inspired. You want to do more. You want to go on adventures.”
Ellen Page has certainly had her fair share of adventure since coming out on Valentine’s Day, 2014. She has become involved in a relationship with Samantha Thomas, and the couple made their public debut at TIFF. She is enjoying the buzz that Freeheld continues to generate — in addition to the dialogue the movie is creating. Finally, Ellen Page appears to be embracing her true authentic self — someone who the actress said during her Time interview had not been embraced by her for a long time, and certainly not until she officially came out. With the 2015 HRC Vanguard Award win, Ellen Page has stepped into a new role — inspiration.
“Ellen Page has been an inspiration for LGBT youth around the world,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement on the HRC website. “Her willingness to speak her truth for all to hear, and to confront injustice against LGBT people, has made her a role model and there is no one more deserving of HRC’s National Vanguard Award.”
[Photo by Leigh Vogel / Stringer]