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Page, who has not yet made a major in-person appearance since coming out as transgender in December, praised the festival for creating, “an incalculable amount of positive change and transformation in this world. I don’t know that I’d be sitting here without the work that you’ve done and continue to do and the space and the platform you’ve created for so many voices and stories to get out there and to reach people.”
Reflecting on the LGBTQ representation he saw on screen growing up, he said though it was limited, without it “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 recalled being 15 and stumbling upon 2000’s But I’m A Cheerleader while flipping through the channels and how “dialogue in that film and scenes in that film just transform your life,” adding, “I almost think we don’t talk enough about how important representation is, enough about how many lives it saves and how many futures it allows for.”
The cult film starred Natasha Lyonne as a high school cheerleader sent to conversion therapy by her parents for her attraction to women, which instead results in her falling in love with another teen lesbian, played by Clea DuVall.
Page said that in recently discussing “our cute stumbling-upon-representation stories” with a friend, he realized, “this isn’t cute, this is so infuriating that it was so limited and quite frankly, continues to be,” but commended Outfest for leading the charge toward progress.
“I can only hope that with the incredible honor and privilege I have, being in a space where I can create stories, to continue down that path and offer visibility that I didn’t really get as a youngster,” Page added during the speech.
Octavia Spencer was also honored during Outfest’s closing night with the the James Schamus Ally Award; Spencer was a producer on festival short film selection Right to Try, following casting director Jeffrey Drew on his journey living with HIV and participating in an experimental trial to help find a cure.
“I’m always a big fan of an unsung hero, which is why I responded so strongly to Jeffrey Drew’s story. It speaks to the kinds of stories I want to see on screen, celebrating everyday heroes with a true sense of purpose and hope,” Spencer said during her speech, which was also delivered via video message. “I feel humble to be acknowledged with this award. It’s important to stand with your friends and give them the same respect you want for yourself. It is also important to open hearts and minds through authentic storytelling. Good stories entertain while bringing change and providing hope.”
The closing night gala at the Orpheum Theatre also included a screening of Fanny: The Right to Rock to wrap up the festival, which kicked off Aug. 13 with an outdoor celebration of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
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