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‘I’m Ellen and I’m Gay’: Ellen Reflects on Coming Out 20 Years Ago

“I’m Ellen and I’m gay,” Ellen DeGeneres said at the beginning of today’s episode of her popular daytime talk show. “20 years ago I said that, it was a much bigger deal then,” she added.

When DeGeneres’ character first came out on her sitcom in 1997, and DeGeneres came out herself at the same time, she was the first leading TV character to do so. “This was before we had Will & Grace, and Cam and Mitchell (Modern Family), and Hoda and Kathie Lee,” she said.

“It was called ‘The Puppy Episode,’ because we wanted to keep it a secret until it aired and ‘Ellen Throws Her Career Away’ seemed too on the nose,” she joked. Then, she clarified, saying, “The real reason we called it ‘The Puppy Episode’ is cause when writers told the executives that they wanted me to come out because my character needed to be in a relationship after four years of not being in a relationship, someone at the studio said, ‘Well, get her a puppy. She’s not coming out.'”

It was controversial, and it was groundbreaking, and she said it’s the hardest thing she’s ever had to do, and so today, she spent her show reflecting, reuniting with the cast, and hearing from those she’s inspired and helped.

The whole episode was pretty special. Watch the opening above, via The Ellen Show.

[featured image via screen grab]

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