The recent appearance of Ellen DeGeneres on The Oprah Show was called “An Oprah Show special event” and it really was, especially in terms of lesbian visibility. As her own wife refers to her, “the most famous lesbian in the world” joined Oprah for a discussion on her career, her marriage and her O Magazine cover campaign from the past year.
Here are some choice moments:
Ellen on coming out:
When I came out, it was celebrated but reports kept reporting on the reports, and people were like ‘Shut up already,” but I didn’t say anything.
On The Ellen Show being canceled:
No one called to say it had been canceled. I had to read it in the trades. I knew there was a possibility of losing my career, but I didn’t do it for my career — I did it for me to live in my truth. There was no shame. I don’t care if people approve of it or not it’s who I am.
Ellen went on to say she didn’t work for three years, became depressed and was running out of money. Trying to convince networks to give her a talk show was difficult because they thought that the perceived audience (“housewives”) wouldn’t have anything in common with an openly gay woman.
It was during these three years, however, that Ellen said she did a lot of soul searching and was able to discover who she really was, which led to where she is today — “the happiest and healthiest she’s ever been.”
Another reason she’s so happy is her wife, Portia de Rossi, who she introduced as “the smartest, kindest, most wonderful woman that you’ll ever, ever know.” She affectionately refers to her as “baby” during a clip, which Oprah acknowledges and comments that the two light up when they are in each other’s presence.
“I feel very fortunate, very lucky that I found that connection,” Ellen said of Portia. Portia then told the story of how she knew she was interested in Ellen, and subsequently decided to come out:
It took me 3 years to actually tell her how I felt about her because i was on Ally McBeal at the time, not living as an openly gay person. I was closeted and very very afraid that if i talked about being gay, it would be the end of my career so I wasn’t about to then date the most famous lesbian in the world.”
We met socially and felt immediate draw. We did talk a little bit and then over those three years we saw each other at parties or various things, but the one time that was the most significant during a photoshoot. I walked over to say hello to her and, I couldn’t believe it, but she turned around and it was like an arrow shot through my heart. I was weak at the knees, overwhelmed with how I felt. It took me 10 months to do anything about it.
Ellen said she’d had feelings for Portia, but didn’t know it was reciprocated. Finally, Portia told her, and it was love.
It’s been over a year since Ellen and Portia became married, and before showing behind-the-scenes clips of their ceremony, Oprah asked them why it was so important to be able to call each other “wife.” Portia explains:
It’s a legal stamp of validity. It’s hard to know it feels until it happens. I hope everyone gets to have that feeling. The thing about being a gay couple is that, in the past, you referred to your wife and there was quotation marks around it and people could snicker about it. Now, it’s fact, it’s law — she’s my wife. I get to say she’s my wife and it’s a fact.
Ellen then said, “It feels like your home, your anchor and safety. I’m going to be with her until the day I die and I know that.”
It’s all incredibly adorable, heartwarming and followed up by video of them preparing for their wedding day, where Ellen can’t stop saying “Oh my god” upon seeing Portia in her gown.
The show ends with highlights of Ellen’s success and the great fun she has with her show and current career. Not only is her talk show successful, but her endorsements of products such as CoverGirl and American Express have proven to be incredibly profitable as well. No wonder she’s so happy!
The O issue with Ellen and Oprah on the cover hits newsstands this week, and there’s also an interview and photo spread of Ellen inside. And, as an added bonus, the comedian was also able to take over the column that Oprah herself normally writes: “What I know for sure.” And what does Ellen know for sure? You can actually read it online now, but one of the things she knows for sure is:
I would never change any of the hard times I went through in my life. Because it was in those times that I grew the most and gained the most perspective.
The fact that both Ellen and Portia are speaking so candidly about their relationship and the importance they place on their marriage is such a great thing for lesbian visibility. I appreciate that they’ve been given the platform to talk about the normalcy of their relationship, and the love they feel for one another. Oprah, despite not always being agreeable to many, is a champion of gay and lesbian rights, and I loved the episode. Can’t wait to get my copy of O in the mail.