Elliot Page is just like us.
The Umbrella Academy star recently opened up about one queer film that changed his life, and it’s one that many of us will be able to relate to. While accepting Outfest’s annual Achievement Award on Sunday, Page said that seeing But I’m a Cheerleader when he was young changed his life.
“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. “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.”
“And then, you know, at 15, when you are flipping through the channels and you stumble on But I’m a Cheerleader and the dialogue in that film, and scenes in that film just transform your life. 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.”
He also thanked Outfest for changing the face of queer 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. And it offers somebody a lifeline. And I know that representation has done that for me.”
If your life wasn’t also changed by But I’m a Cheerleader, the 1999 movie from lesbian director Jamie Babbit follows a high school girl (Natasha Lyonne) who is sent to a gay conversion camp when her boyfriend and parents suspect she might be gay.
The film is often cited as one of the first positive queer films many millenials saw while growing up, and for many of us, it was one of the first times we ever saw queer teens who were happy in a movie.
Page came out as trans back in December of last year, updating his name and telling the world that they use he/they pronouns.
Since then, Page has been one of the leading voices in trans representation. He did an interview with Oprah where he explained his transition and why it was necessary, saying it “felt important and selfish for myself and my own wellbeing, and my mental health.”
He’s also been interviewed by Vanity Fair, and became the first trans masc person to be on the cover of Time Magazine.