Ellen DeGeneres admits she was warned that coming out as primetime TV’s first openly gay character “could destroy her career.”
It’s been 20 years now since DeGeneres first broke the news on her hit ABC sitcom Ellen. Not long after that, she graced the cover of Time magazine under the cover line, “Yep, I’m Gay.”
DeGeneres now reflects her decision was far from an easy one.
“I was warned by my publicist at the time — everybody said, ‘We could destroy this whole show,” DeGeneres told Time First, a series about women who have changed the world. “But, you know, it’s my life.”
DeGeneres remembers the time as one where she was just trying to be herself.
“Leading up to coming out, I wasn’t trying to be political,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to be an activist. When I did, it just made sense that the character would come out, and it was the greatest thing that happened because it sent me on a different trajectory, and here I am now and there’s no secrets. I’m not ashamed of anything.”
That’s not to say DeGeneres’ road has been an easy one.
The Finding Dory star shares she’s had more than her share of bullying moments.
DeGeneres also recalls never feeling prouder than she was when President Barack Obama presented her with the Medal of Freedom in 2016.
“That the president of the United States would be talking about me being brave,” she said. “You have this one moment in time to be fully who you are. That’s what I decided to do, and I got rewarded for it.”
While admitting the decision she made 20 years ago now stands as the hardest thing she’s ever done, she added, “I would not change one moment of it.”
DeGeneres is now married to actress Portia de Rossi and she recently marked their nine-year anniversary by posting on Instagram that “being her wife is the greatest thing I am.”
De Rossi previously told Oprah Winfrey, “we actually met socially and I just felt that immediate draw. We did talk a little bit and then over those three years, we saw each other at parties or at various things, but the one time that was the most significant was during a photo-shoot. I just walked over to say hello to her, and I couldn’t believe it, but she turned around and it was like an arrow was shot through my heart.”
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]