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Elliot Page pushes back on LGBTQ+ films being 'niche'

Elliot Page pushes back on LGBTQ+ films being 'niche'

Elliot Page
Dave Benett/Getty Images

He’s currently promoting his latest film, Close to You.

rachelkiley

Films featuring LGBTQ+ characters have long been considered “niche” projects in Hollywood — regardless of the themes, stories, or relationships explored. But Elliot Page is pushing back against that idea with some cold hard stats.

“30% of young people identify as LGBTQ+,” he said during a recent appearance at the BFI Flare London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival. “So I’m sorry, this is not niche. That really, really irks me.”

Close to You, Page’s first feature film since coming out as trans in 2020, had its European debut this week at the festival. The story followsSam (Page), a trans man who finally returns to his hometown after transitioning. While there, he has to deal with a family that can’t quite get things right when it comes to gender, and runs into an old friend (Hillary Beck) he had feelings for when they were younger.

The broad strokes of the film — returning home, revisiting old feelings, family that doesn’t understand who you are as an adult — are all things director Dominic Savage pointed out to Variety “everyone can relate to.”

“That’s what I like about films that deal with a common experience for all us — not necessarily exceptional things but things that become exceptional,” he said. “There’s a real importance to these small events in our lives.”

The specifics of Sam’s journey as a trans man might not translate exactly to every single person’s experience, but that’s…also true of essentially every story, and Page had no qualms pointing that out.

“If you told really specific stories about cis-het people, I’m not calling that plot niche,” he said.

A recently released Gallup survey reports that 22% of Gen Z adults (age 18-26) in the United States identify as LGBTQ+, as do 10% of millennials (age 27-42). Adults between the ages of 25-39 make up the largest percentage of moviegoers in North America, so these are the demographics most Hollywood films are likely to target, at least in terms of domestic releases.

And while the number of films that include LGBTQ+ characters has definitely increased in the past decade, making films that center them, or even give them significant screen time, isn’t making quite the same progress.

But even though Page is insistent that films about LGBTQ+ characters shouldn’t be sidelined as niche interest films with nothing to offer the broader population, he still believes Close to You will mean something more to an LGBTQ+ audience.

“Sam has parents that accept his transness, and have the best intentions, but they don’t truly see Sam,” he told Pink News. “The way in which his family interacts with him, again trying their best but not quite getting it right, the nuance in those moments will hopefully resonate particularly with trans and queer people.”

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Rachel Kiley

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.