Elliot Page attends the "Close to You" premiere during the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival at Royal Alexandra Theatre on September 10, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario Source: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Star Elliot Page Introduces Queer Movie 'Close to You' at BFI Flare, Says the LGBTQ+ Audience is 'Not Niche'

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

Elliot Page, the out transgender star of the new queer film "Close to You," thrilled audiences with his introduction of the movie at LGBTQ+ film festival BFI Flare in London.

Answering audience questions about his coming out journey and the climate in Tinseltown, Page reckoned that while "there are great people in Hollywood," the problem is with "the model" of how American filmmaking happens, The Hollywood Reporter detailed.

"It's a system, and it's pretty toxic," Page related. "Those were just a lot of my experiences. I think it actually makes a lot of people really unhappy."

Page recalled being deeply unhappy himself even when, at the age of 20 and years before he came out and transitioned, he found himself an Oscar nominee for his work on Jason Reitman's 2007 Cody Diablo-written film "Juno." Page has spoken before about the traumatic experience of being forced to dress as a woman for the film's premiere.

"But nowadays Page feels looser and better after coming out as queer in 2014 and then as a trans man in 2020," THR wrote of the 37-year-old film star. "Coming out 'as queer was a massive step forward, to getting closer to who I really am," the star told the audience at the festival.

THR went on to quote Page as saying that coming out "lifted so much weight off my shoulders.... I didn't go out on a date or hold someone's hand up to when I was 27 years old. I was very closeted. And it felt like, if I don't do anything, something really bad is going to happen. I'm not okay."

Page, an advocate who has called transitioning "life saving," added that coming out was a matter of "accepting my identity and really choosing to live my life."

Perhaps the highlight of Page's remarks was when he made the observation that it's a mistake to regard LGBTQ+ moviegoers as a "niche" audience.

"Thirty percent of young people identify as LGBTQ+, so I'm sorry, this is not niche," the actor declared, referring to a recent survey showing that Generation Z is much more comfortable with coming out and embracing authenticity than are older generational cohorts.

"That really, really irks me," Page went on to add, THR detailed. "If you told really specific stories about cis-het people, I'm not calling that plot niche."

Noting that "Close to You" is "Page's first feature film since 2017," THR said that "Page portray[s] Sam, a trans man returning to see his family in small-town Canada and meeting an old school friend, played by Hillary Baack ('Sound of Metal'), forcing him to confront old feelings."

"Page developed the story with [director Dominic] Savage," THR added. "Largely improvised, the film features little scripted dialogue."

Page discussed those aspects of the film in an earlier interview with Savage and Baack. In that same interview he also took note of a scene that shows him shirtless: "Showing this dude who's comfortable and present and waking up in his body, that means a lot to me," the actor told Entertainment Weekly last fall. "I never thought I'd feel that way, so it's nice to get to act it."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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