Portia Degeneres says Ellen's early TV troubles kept her in the closet [video]

Posted by JD Uy
November 3, 2010 2:42 AM |

''Having to hide something like that just ruined me. It really, really killed me, because even though I'd gotten to a point where I wasn't ashamed of it anymore, I was doing it for financial reasons. I was doing it so I'd have a career, because there were no lesbian TV actresses ever in history....

''1997 Ellen came out. And I watched that like, I'm sure a lot of gay people did. 'What's going to happen to her?' Because really, it was the litmus test for me. 'If she went down, there's no way in hell I can come out. If someone as charming and wonderful as Ellen DeGeneres can't pull this off and keep her career, it's not going to work for me....' She lost her sitcom almost immediately after that....''

''[My mother] was in denial that I had an eating disorder and that I was gay.... She'd say to me, 'It's okay that you're gay, but don't tell anybody.' Or she's say, 'I accept you, but you can't expect other people to accept you.' So, in that sense, she was ashamed of who I really was. She liked the TV actress, but she didn't really like the lesbian....

''There's a very fine line between being private and being ashamed. Very fine. My brother's relationships were very public, and she was very proud to tell people who he was dating. But for me, all of a sudden it became my private life, and no one needs to know what goes on....''

''Like, she really didn't know how devastating it is for a parent to say, 'You know, I accept it. I wish it were different, but that's the way it is. But don't tell anybody. It's a very strange message to send to somebody.'Ideally -- ultimately, 'Who cares?' is the best response anyone can get if they come out to somebody.''

Portia Degeneres (f/k/a Portia de Rossi) speaking with Oprah Winfrey about her new autobiography, "Unbearable Lightness." She says she was extremely anorexic and afraid to come out as gay in an attempt to satisfy the demands of being an actress in Hollywood and fashion model. (Oprah Winfrey Show)

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