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Ellen DeGeneres Wishes She’d Come Out Sooner — Despite the Toll It Took Her Career

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Looking back on her iconic, groundbreaking coming-out episode 20 years later, Ellen DeGeneres has only one regret — that it didn’t come sooner.

“I wish I would have done it sooner. I wish I hadn’t waited so long,” she told Matt Lauer on Friday’s Today show.

“I was anticipating it being a charged episode, which it was, because it was making a big decision to come out, and to be honest and to stop hiding something that I had kept secret for so long,” she also said.

And DeGeneres, 59, did face steep consequences for her honesty, a reality that made her “angry at first.”

“The biggest thing was that I lost my career,” she told Lauer, 59. “For three years, I couldn’t work, and was not offered one thing. I was running out of money and didn’t know if I was going to work again. I was 45 years old, and I was like, ‘This doesn’t look good.’ “

But now, with her career back and better than ever, the Ellen DeGeneres Show host told Lauer that there was value even in the stress and blowback she received from revealing she is a lesbian.

“It taught me compassion. It taught me that I was strong enough to start all over again,” she continued. “It was the greatest thing to ever happen to me.”