Elliot Page is looking back at the films that helped him navigate the “isolation and loneliness” he felt in his youth. The actor credited the 1999 satirical dramedy But I’m a Cheerleader for giving him an idea of the importance of representation in media.
“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,” Page said while accepting the Achievement Award during the closing night of Outfest in Los Angeles on Sunday in a video speech.
Page said that, without those sparse instances of representational media, “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.”
He went on to recall how, at 15, he was “flipping through the channels and you stumble on But I’m a Cheerleader.”
“The dialogue in that film, and scenes in that film just transform your life,” Page said. “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 — who came out as transgender in December — went on to express his frustration with the continued rarity of real representation in film and TV.
“It’s [Outfest] and organizations like yourself that are completely changing [the amount of representation] 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,” Page shared. “It offers somebody a lifeline. And I know that representation has done that for me.”
As for But I’m A Cheerleader, the 1999 comedy stars Natasha Lyonne as Megan Bloomfield, a 17-year-old cheerleader whose parents send her to a gay conversation therapy camp when they suspect her of being a lesbian. At the facility, Megan comes to embrace her sexual orientation and falls in love.
In April, Page sat down for a conversation with Oprah Winfrey, and reflected on the emotional challenges of coming out as transgender.
“It’s this interesting dichotomy in a way where on some level it feels just like the most miraculous, amazing thing, and it also is just sort of the experience of, oh, there I am! Like, oh, there I am!” he explained. “A part of me was like, ‘Oh my god, why was that so hard?'”