Through his career, Elliot Page has had a front-row seat to Hollywood hypocrisy. “It puzzled me to watch cis straight actors play queer and trans characters and be revered,” he writes in his new memoir, Pageboy. “Hollywood is built on leveraging queerness. Tucking it away when needed, pulling it out when beneficial, while patting themselves on the back … I was punished for being queer while I watched others be protected and celebrated, who gleefully abused people in the wide open.” The actor rose to fame with a striking performance in 2007’s indie dramedy Juno yet was unable to come out as a lesbian until 2014 due to compounding fears about a career tailspin in a still-homophobic Hollywood, his family’s ambivalence (or sometimes downright hostility) toward queerness, and, most overwhelming, his own struggle with self-acceptance. He describes spending years wondering if he wasn’t a woman, lost in childhood memories of postpubescent self-loathing that only intensified when he aged, unable to speak about his gender without bursting into tears.
Page told the public that he’s trans in 2020. “I am sick of the creepy focus on my body and compulsion to infantilize … I know these instances and remarks may seem tiny, but when your existence is constantly debated and denied, it sucks you dry,” he writes about subtle transphobia in a book full of revelations about growing up in the spotlight and coming to terms with his own identity. “Sprawled out, bare, I crave gentleness.” Below are a few stories about Page’s experiences in Hollywood from Pageboy.
He was told to remain closeted while promoting Juno, experiencing homophobia both in Hollywood and at home.
“The success of Juno coincided with people in the industry telling me no one could know I was queer,” he writes. “I was struggling with depression and having panic attacks so bad I would collapse. I could barely function. Numb and quiet, nails in my stomach, I was incapable of articulating the depth of pain I was in, especially because ‘my dreams were coming true,’ or at least that is what I was being told. I dismissed my feelings as dramatic, berated myself for being ungrateful. I felt too guilty to say I was hurting, incapacitated, that I didn’t see a future.” He details how the tabloids made his sexuality a hot topic. A Village Voice article at the time wanted to “put the dykey pieces together.” At home, his mother encouraged him to abandon his tomboy era and date men, while his stepmother wondered why he wasn’t like the other girls.
He had a relationship with Juno co-star Olivia Thirlby while working on the Academy Award–winning film.
Page reveals that his romantic relationship with Olivia Thirlby helped him begin a journey toward self-acceptance. “I had an all-encompassing desire for her, she made me want in a way that was new, hopeful,” Page writes. “Being intimate with Olivia helped my shame dissipate. I didn’t see a glint of it in her eyes and I wanted that — done feeling wretched about who I am.” Together, the pair hung out with Michael Cera and Jonah Hill between filming, getting baked in Vancouver and walking around Stanley Park.
He dated Kate Mara and other unnamed celebrities.
While Kate Mara was in an open relationship with Max Minghella, Page had an intense romance with the House of Cards actor. “This was right after I’d come out as gay and it was a time of exploration and also heartbreak,” Page writes. “I think my relationship, or whatever you want to call it with Kate, very much encapsulates a certain dynamic that I consistently found myself in, which was falling for people that — I think a lot of us do this — who aren’t fully available. And the sort of safety in that and the highs and the lows and the serotonin bump, and then it goes away.”
Page also dated other, unnamed, Hollywood figures. One girlfriend, “queer and confident, an actor whose movies I loved,” introduced him to her queer community, while another, nicknamed “Ryan,” was more closeted than Page and could barely interact with him in public. They met while making a film together. “It was not a sustainable relationship, just like when I had kept people hidden.” Page writes. “The lying, the anxiety, the disgust. People didn’t ‘think she was queer,’ but they definitely assumed I was, and I don’t think she could handle the shame.”
“One of the most famous actors in the world” made homophobic comments and sexually harassed Page shortly after he came out as a lesbian in 2014.
At a birthday party, a famous and powerful actor told Page that being gay “doesn’t exist” and that Page is “just afraid of men.” When Page pushed back against his comments, the actor began to sexually harass him. “‘I’m going to fuck you to make you realize you aren’t gay. I’m going to lick your asshole. It is going to taste like lime. You’re not gay,’” recounts Page. “He kept describing how he was going to fuck me, touch me, lick me. How he liked to pity fuck women … He was, and still is, one of the most famous actors in the world.”