Metro Weekly

Ellen DeGeneres: “I didn’t think I was going to come out. Period”

Ellen opened up to Oprah Winfrey about her struggle with being open about her sexuality

Ellen DeGeneres, with her wife, Portia de Rossi (Photo: Angela George / Wikimedia Commons).
Ellen DeGeneres, with her wife, Portia de Rossi (Photo: Angela George / Wikimedia Commons).

Ellen DeGeneres made history when, in 1997, she came out on her eponymous sitcom Ellen. It was a watershed moment for LGBT people, television, and American culture as a whole. But, at least for a while, DeGeneres herself thought that moment would never come.

Speaking with Oprah Winfrey — who portrayed Ellen’s therapist on the sitcom — on Sunday’s episode of Oprah’s Master Class, DeGeneres shared her doubts over whether coming out publicly would ever occur.

“I didn’t think I was going to come out. Period,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d be coming out on a show, ever.”

However, after a friend treated her to a course at the Esalen Institute — “a hippie retreat place” — DeGeneres was forced to examine what she truly thought of herself.

“‘I wanted to know what the inner dialogue of my subconscious mind was, and it was scary and crazy,” she said. “What came out of listening to what I had been saying to myself is, ‘Would I still be famous? Would they still love me if they knew I was gay?’ And my fear was, ‘No, they wouldn’t.'”

That revelation caused immense feelings of shame for the actress and presenter, shame that she “couldn’t be honest and really be who I am.”

“I just didn’t want to pretend to be somebody else anymore so that people would like me,” she said.

[ninja-inline id=73197]

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!

Leave a Comment: