Feeling Pride in the Name of Love
“This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.”
Actress Ellen Page spoke these words during a speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s inaugural Time to THRIVE conference. She addressed the relative ease of listening to people and understanding who they are. However, that sentiment came with a caveat.
“It can be the hardest thing,” she said, “because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves.”
A few seconds later, Page came out as a lesbian.
The positive responses rolled in immediately. The crowd reacted with a thunderous applause. Celebrities and fans alike took to social media in support of her.
As she told the Huffington Post two years later, the deluge of emotion hit her hard. But she also recognized not all experiences are like hers.
“[The response] makes me think of all the people, particularly young people, who come out and don’t receive that support,” Page said, “[who] don’t get a standing ovation and an outpour of love … [who] get kicked out of their homes or hurt. We need to change that.”
Oct. 11 marks the 28th National Coming Out Day, a time to promote a safe world for individuals of all sexual and gender identities to live openly and congruently with their true selves.
It’s an experience Page mentioned in her speech as one she had been building up to for much of her life before coming out.
“I’m tired of hiding, and I’m tired of lying by omission,” she said. “I suffered for years because I was scared to be out.
“I am standing here with all of you on the other side of that pain.”
Unfortunately, though, many individuals do not have this same experience.
With the 5-4 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed to same-sex couples. Despite this fact, there are many instances of legislation denying rights from lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans individuals.
Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 and North Carolina’s House Bill 2 are two such laws, preventing many citizens from receiving or using services on the basis of how they identify themselves. Statutes such as these have a common thread: rash reactions to things unknown.
There is a sort of hate-based fear that comes from interaction with unfamiliar things. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but for many, the concept of someone falling outside of a typified norm stokes this vitriol – particularly if those norms are very set in stone.
It shows through in senseless killings like the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando. A gunman opened fire at a prominent LGBT night club, and the results, needless to say, were tragic.
Not all reactions are this extreme. However, many have the same fuel: hate for those who feel differently.
In the end, though, put very simply, love is love.
There may be different views on what constitutes love – many of which are dogmatic to some. We can respect these stances. But we need to respect other stances, other canons, just as much. If we look past the obstacles many of us have, we can see eye to eye.
And maybe we can learn something that Page spoke about two years ago.
“What I have learned is that love – the beauty of it, the joy of it and, yes, even the pain of it – is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being,” she said.
“We deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”