Elliot Page has revealed how “But I’m a Cheerleader” helped him overcome “shame and self-hatred” as a member of the LGBTQ community. While receiving his Outfest Achievement Award on Sunday in Los Angeles, Page recounted how he stumbled upon the 1999 comedy when he was 15 and how it has transformed his life since then.

“I for one know that without the various representation that I was able to stumble upon as a kid and a teenager — there was very little — I just don’t know if I would have made it,” he said. “I don’t know if I would 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 could hardly see out of it.”

“And then, you know, at 15, when you are flipping through the channels and you stumble on ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’ and the dialogue in that film, and scenes in that film just transform your life. I almost think 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,” he continued.

Page, who came out as gay in December, went on to describe the lack of representation that continues to this day as “infuriating.” The Oscar-nominated star also thanked Outfest and other similar organizations for “completely changing that,” and for “helping get stories out in the world that I know are reaching people in moments where they feel desperately alone and afraid and like they have no sense of community.”

Page said organizations like Outfest offer people like him “a lifeline,” adding that representation has helped him overcome feelings of loneliness.

Octavia Spencer, who was also honored with the James Schamus Ally Award during the event, said she’s proud to bring LGBTQIA stories to audiences around the world through her documentaries.

“I feel humbled to be acknowledged with this award,” she said, adding: “It’s important to stand with your friends, and give them the same respect you want for yourself. It is also important to open hearts and minds through authentic storytelling. Good stories can entertain while bringing change and providing hope.”

The Oscar-nominated star of "Juno" has come out as transgender, introducing himself in social media posts as Elliot Page
The Oscar-nominated star of "Juno" has come out as transgender, introducing himself in social media posts as Elliot Page AFP / Geoff Robins