1. Ellen DeGeneres — Comedian
Nearly 10 years after the most public coming-out in history, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, whose career has seen a major comeback since the premiere of her talk show in September 2003, is clearly on top of the Hollywood pile. Her hosting of the 79th Academy Awards on Feb. 25, 2007, was a success: Ratings were up 3 percent overall from last year, averaging 39.9 million viewers according to initial Nielsen reports, with particular improvements in women viewers.
The fact that DeGeneres, an out lesbian comedian who suffered serious popular backlash after she came out in 1997, was able to draw such a wide audience shows that her mild-mannered approach to comedy as well as her low-key presentation of her life has finally paid off. When DeGeneres first launched her daytime talk show, she rarely mentioned her personal life â€” an omission that many LGBT viewers found both telling and somewhat disappointing. But as the program has continued to be successful, garnering 15 Emmy awards to date, DeGeneres has relaxed the apparent rules on gay content, and now mentions her girlfriend, Portia de Rossi, much more often than in earlier years.
But the experiences she underwent after her coming-out have clearly stayed with her. "I expected everybody to understand right away," she told W magazine this month, recalling the negative effects of her coming-out. "I still think I was right. But I got to learn how to sit back and watch other people and learn what judgment was and have compassion. And learn that not only was I strong enough to make it in the first place, but I was strong enough to come back and make it again."
What do you think of our top 13? Tell us who you would add to the list, and watch Power Lesbians on Logo on March 1 at 12 p.m., March 3 at 9 a.m., or March 5 at 12:30 a.m.