Elliot Page recalls transformative experience in a gay bar that helped rid him of queer shame

Elliot Page wears a black suit and bow tie while smiling at the camera.

Elliot Page’s new memoir Pageboy is almost here, and the trans actor and trailblazer has let fans in on an exclusive early preview of the first chapter.

It’s been two and a half years since the 36-year-old The Umbrella Academy actor revealed that he was a trans man in an emotional Instagram post, sharing with fans how “profoundly happy” he was to be living as his authentic self.

In the months since, he’s taken time to share small moments of trans joy, like the simple action of having his passport photo changed

More recently, he’s addressed the life-changing power of gender-affirming care, posting a topless photo and expressing how trans healthcare has enabled him to experience small yet joyous moments.

“It feels so f*****g good soaking in the sun now,” he wrote. “I never thought I could experience this, the joy I feel in my body.”

It’s not all been plain sailing for the Juno star, though. In his initial coming out post, he shared his fears about the hatred and violence trans people so often face, and stood defiant in the face of right-wing politicians trying to criminalise trans people’s existence.

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In a lengthy essay in Esquire last year, he also detailed the gender dysphoria he felt through his early career, and how being forced to wear a dress during the Juno press tour nearly “killed” him.

Now, in his new book, the much anticipated Pageboy: A Memoir, Elliot Page is rolling all of his experiences into one read, breaking them down and reflecting on their impact. 

The memoir will explore Page’s experiences with his gender journey, romance and struggles within his family life. But as the first chapter shows, it’s also about the singular moments that changed his life.

In an exclusive excerpt of Pageboy: A Memoir’s first chapter, shared with People, Elliot Page details his transformative first experience in a gay bar called Reflections, and shares how kissing a woman called Paula helped the “unbearable weight of self-disgust” to momentarily dissipate. 

“That time at Reflections was new for me, being in a queer space and being present, enjoying it,” the passage reads. “Shame had been drilled into my bones since I was my tiniest self, and I struggled to rid my body of that old toxic and erosive marrow. But there was a joy in the room, it lifted me, forced a reaction in the jaw, an uncontrolled, steady smile.”

Page shares the pivotal moment that he watched Paula dance in front of him, and the desire of wanting to kiss her – it’s a moment so many young LGBTQ+ people can relate to; those early, affirming moments that stay with us forever. 

After asking to kiss Paula, Page writes: “Then I did. In a queer bar. In front of everyone around us. I was coming to understand what all those poems were about, what all the fuss was. Everything was cold before, motionless, emotionless.

“Maybe for a second, I could allow myself pleasure … Here I was on the precipice. Getting closer to my desires, my dreams, me, without the unbearable weight of the self-disgust I’d carried for so long. But a lot can change in a few months. And in a few months, Juno would premiere.”

Speaking to People about the snippet, Page revealed that the first chapter just “came out” and he didn’t stop writing. He also spoke about the timeliness of the memoir, considering the rampant attempts by right-wing politicians in the US to ban trans people from accessing healthcare, playing sports and using the bathroom that aligns with their gender.

“I think this period of not just hate, of course, but misinformation or just blatant lies about LGTBQ+ lives, about our healthcare, it felt like the right time,” Page said.

Pageboy: A Memoir will be released on Tuesday 6 June.

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