Ellen Denegeres is now one of the most popular celebrities in America, but when she came out as a lesbian 1997 she was stepping into the unknown. At the time she had a popular sitcom, but there were few out celebs and as she has revealed to People magazine, dealing with some of the reactions to her news was difficult.
She says, “I didn’t think it was going to be that much of a surprise. What hurt was this: Does that label, that word, change my talent, my kindness, my heart, my intention for entertaining people? The bottom line is as simple as this, my feelings were hurt. I just gave up and moved to Ojai [California] and sat in my house as long as I could until I ran out of money. Then I started over again.”
It been said that Ellen and her character on her show coming out was the beginning of the end of that sitcom, with America not ready for a primetime show led by an LGBT character (although it wasn’t too long afterwards that Will & Grace started). For a while DeGeneres found it difficult to get work, but has since become a bit of a national institution and this year will host the Oscars.
In the interview she adds, “Looking back, I did feel isolated, I did feel rejected, but now I look at it as a movie that I saw that someone went through. I only experience the amazing life that I have right now… I’m so blessed in many ways, but I’m not always funny. I’m not always happy. I’m a human being, I don’t want to be expected to be funny all the time. It’s not real. I’m constantly learning and growing and trying to be better.”