Elliot Page honored with 2021 Outfest Achievement Award “we don’t talk enough about how important representation is & how many lives it saves”

As the 39th annual Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival drew to a close with the LA premiere of Bobbi Jo Hart’s rousing documentary feature Fanny: The Right To Rock, Oscar-nominee Elliot Page was honored by Outfest with the organization’s 2021 Achievement Award, making him the first publicly identifying trans person in the history of Outfest to receive the award.

Speaking to The Queer Review ahead of the event, Outfest’s executive director Damien S. Navarro told us why the actor had been selected. “Elliot has done some groundbreaking things, not only for the trans community, but also in front of the camera, and most importantly when we’re looking at somebody that is incredibly well-rounded, behind the camera producing and directing their own content. That is something that we think is incredibly special and we want to make sure that we’re giving that achievement to somebody who really deserves it like Elliot.”

Trans and Non-binary Summit programmer at Outfest Kieran Medina. Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Outfest Los Angeles.

Presetting the award to Page, who was unable to attend Sunday night’s event at Downtown LA’s iconic Orpheum Theatre due to work commitments in Toronto, Outfest’s Trans and Non-binary Summit Programmer Kieran Medina expanded on why Page was being recognized. “Tonight, this award honors the achievements of a transgender trailblazer for trans masculine visibility in Hollywood and a tireless champion for social change, using his global platform to shed light on important social and LGBTQ+ issues”, Medina told Outfest’s Closing Night audience. “His love for storytelling and passion for social justice have also taken him behind the camera as a producer and a documentary filmmaker. His directorial debut, There’s Something In The Water explores the scourge of environmental racism through the lens of Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women fighting to protect their communities, their land, and their futures. His groundbreaking two-time Emmy-nominated documentary series Gaycation followed him and Ian Daniel as they explored LGBTQ+ culture and the often harsh realities facing queer communities across the world.”

Outfest Achievement Award honoree Elliot Page, projected on screen at the Opening Night Gala of Outfest LA 2021 at Hollywood Forever. Photo The Queer Review.

“Most recently in a moving message on social media he announced that he is transgender”, Medina continued, “and vowed to use his voice to speak out on issues of violence perpetrated against trans people as well as confronting political leaders who seek to criminalize trans healthcare. For his courage, advocacy, and leadership, I want to say thank you. I also want to remind him that there is a full community behind him and we welcome you, we support you, we are with you and we love you. And we also see those thirst-trap shirtless selfies, and we are here for it!”

In his heartfelt and emotional video acceptance speech Elliot Page praised Outfest for its work and the life-saving representation it helps to showcase and create. “It’s an incredible honor to be recognized with the annual Achievement Award and deeply humbling, because with your organization and film festival you’ve created an incalculable amount of positive change and transformation of this world.” Page continued, “I for one don’t know if I’d be sitting here without all 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 reach people.”

“I was thinking this past week about what Outfest means to me and what representation means to me, and it’s actually really quite simple and straightforward,” Page offered, “it means being able to live. It means being able to thrive and to have dreams. I know that without the representation that I was able to stumble upon as a kid and a teenager, which was very little, I would not 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 can hardly see out of it.”

“At 15 when you are flipping through the channels and you stumble upon But I’m a Cheerleader, the dialogue and the scenes in that film just transform your life. 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; the magic, the expansiveness, and the beauty.”

Continuing to reflect upon the LGBTQ+ representation that he encountered growing up, Page told the Outfest LA 2021 Closing Night audience that it was “infuriating that it was so limited and quite frankly continues to be. But it’s you, and organizations like yourself, that are helping to get stories out in the world. I know that you are reaching people in moments where they feel desperately alone and afraid and they have no sense of community, and it offers somebody life. I know that representation has done that for me and I can only hope, that the incredible honor and privilege I have to be in a space where I can create stories, that they will continue to have an impact and offer the visibility that I didn’t really get to see as a youngster. The reason I’m here saying any of this, and in the position to be able to do these things, has a lot to do with the extraordinary work that you’ve done. I’m incredibly, incredibly grateful and I’m deeply honored to be recognized by you.”

By James Kleinmann

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