Twenty years since Ellen declared “Yep, I’m Gay”

This month it’s 20 years since comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out. The ground-breaking declaration saw Ellen appearing on the cover of TIME magazine and doing an interview on the Oprah Winfrey show.

At the same time Ellen Morgan, the character DeGeneres played on her sitcom Ellen, also came out to her friends and colleagues. The episode was critically acclaimed and a cultural phenomenon, but the show was quickly accused of being “too gay” and was cancelled the following year.

To commemorate the anniversary TIME has republished Ellen’s interview from 1997.

The magazine recalls that when the interview was published readers responded with a wide range of reactions.

While many were supportive one wrote in to the magazine with is own three word declaration “Yep, I’m Done”.

Some of America’s most iconic brands pulled their advertising during the ‘coming out’ episode of Ellen’s show including car manufacturer Chrysler and department store J.C. Pennys.

Although her sitcom was cancelled the following year, Ellen bounced back becoming the talk show queen and landing her greatest role ever as the voice of Dory in Finding Nemo.

In 2016 Ellen was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Ellen’s brave coming out move paved the way for many other queer celebrities to open up about their sexuality.

Actors Jane Lynch and Ellen Page have both credited Ellen with paving the way for their own declarations, while country singer Chely Wright has spoken about watching Ellen’s coming out as a catalyst for her own declaration.

Empire actor Jussie Smollett had his own coming out moment thanks to Ellen. After taping an interview on Ellen’s talk show the actor recorded a special segment backstage where he talked openly about his sexuality for the first time.

OIP Staff

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