June is LGBTQ+ Pride month, and on the last Sunday of the month in a typical year my family and I usually look forward to the fantastic Chicago Pride Parade entertaining us for about four hours straight — the route goes right in front of our house! Alas, in 2021 the big event has been postponed to October due to COVID. But the overall celebration of LGBTQ+ pride carries on here and across the world. And in Hollywood, of course.

When I think about LGBTQ+ leaders in the film industry — especially in the past 15 months after everything turned upside-down last March — the first person who comes to mind is Elliot Page. As I’m sure you’re aware, Elliot came out as transgender at the end of 2020, after coming out as gay in 2014. I have to admit feeling like a proud mama, having watched his career from Juno to Whip It! to Inception to the X-Men franchise . (One of my favorites of his is actually the under-the-radar thriller The East from director Ridley Scott— check it out if you’ve never seen it!)

I am so happy for him that he can, as he put it on Twitter, “finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.” I am even happier that his bravery in coming out has undoubtedly helped others who are struggling with their identities. He actually addressed that responsibility recently in an Apple+ interview with Oprah, when he said, “With this platform I have, the privilege that I have, and knowing the pain and the difficulties and the struggles I faced in my life, let alone what so many other people are facing — it absolutely felt just crucial and important for me to share that.”

Another LGBTQ+ leader in Hollywood who’s continued to shine this past year actually served to motivate Page to live more authentically: Laverne Cox. While most people know her from her incredible work on Orange is the New Black (all 6 seasons available on Redbox On Demand!), I was psyched to see her in Promising Young Woman, my favorite film of 2020. In that dark comedy, Cox plays coffee shop co-worker and friend of the revenge-obsessed Cassie (Carey Mulligan). A trailblazing LGBTQ+ advocate and activist, Cox most recently executive-produced and was featured the Netflix documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen. Up next for her is the thriller Jolt, in which she plays a detective alongside Kate Beckinsale, Bobby Cannavale and Stanley Tucci.

But perhaps more inspiring than any one LGBTQ+ actor or actress’s success in Hollywood is the fact that LGBTQ+ audiences aren’t having to look as hard to see themselves reflected on the big screen. While I still think that television has made greater strides when it comes to representation, excellent movies across all genres over the past few years — such as Booksmart; Love, Simon; Ammonite; Lady Bird; Best Picture winner Moonlight and more — can give us hope that LGBTQ+ inclusivity is on the rise. And that is something to celebrate indeed. Happy Pride!

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