Ellen DeGeneres is taking a trip down memory lane to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her groundbreaking coming out episode. She reunites with her ‘Ellen’ co-stars Oprah and Laura Dern on the April 28 edition of her talk show to reflect on the moment she told the world that she was gay.
On April 30, 1997, Ellen DeGeneres, 59, and her character on her ABC sitcom Ellen came out as gay. The episode, titled “The Puppy Episode,” was taped in front of a live audience. It was the first time a lead character on TV had come out as gay. The episode instantly became an historic TV moment and a defining one for the LGBTQ community.
“It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life and I would not change one moment of it because it led me to be exactly where I am today – standing in front of all of you, which is a joy,” Ellen DeGeneres says on her hit daytime talk show. “And the fact that all of you and everyone at home is watching me and willing to accept me into your homes every day when no one thought that would ever happen again, it means the world to me.”
Ellen, who has been married to actress Portia de Rossi for 8 years, is joined by Oprah Winfrey, 63, who played her therapist on the sitcom. Later, Laura Dern, 50, who played Ellen’s love interest on the show, also sits down with Ellen and Oprah to talk about the iconic moment.
“You wouldn’t have been able to open hearts and touch hearts and change people’s minds and make a difference in the world had you not had the courage to do that,” Oprah tells Ellen. Laura adds, “It was so profound and I feel so blessed that I got to be there and witness that.”
Ellen also reveals that the episode was titled “The Puppy Episode” because she wanted to keep her announcement a secret before the episode aired. “Actually, the real reason we called it ‘The Puppy Episode’ is because when the 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,'” she admits.
The episode was very controversial at the time, but Ellen has no regrets about coming out. She wants everyone to remember what it was like back then and “appreciate how far we have come” since. Thank you, Ellen. For everything.
HollywoodLifers, do you remember Ellen’s coming out episode? Let us know!