When Ellen DeGeneres made the groundbreaking decision to come out 21 years ago, she faced her fair share of hate.
The talk show host opened up to Adweek about having her character on ABC’s hit sitcom Ellen announce that she was gay in 1997, shortly after the comedian appeared on Time with the cover line, “Yep, I’m Gay.”
“When I came out, I had death threats and there was a bomb threat, but they misjudged the time of the taping,” she said. “We had already finished, and thank God.”
A year after coming out, ABC canceled the sitcom — something DeGeneres said left her feeling “blindsided.”
“I knew there would be people that didn’t like it, but I didn’t realize my show would be canceled,” she said. “I just thought, ‘It’s going to be interesting.’ “
She continued: “The last season we did was a great season, and unfortunately nobody saw it because it was not advertised. It was purposely not advertised by ABC and Disney because they just wanted to hold their hands up to advertisers and say we’re not promoting it, we’re not doing this. And I get it. It’s a business, and I understand that. And so everybody had their reasons, and unfortunately I was just blindsided.”
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But DeGeneres has long stood by her decision to come out in such a public way.
“It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life,” she has said. “I would not change one moment of it because it led me to be exactly where I am today.”
Earlier this month, DeGeneres celebrated National Coming Out Day by giving her wife Portia de Rossi a sweet shout-out on social media. The talk show host, 60, posted a photo of herself planting a kiss on de Rossi during a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“It’s the greatest gift you could give yourself,” she captioned the sweet snap. She added the hashtag #NationalComingOutDay.
The couple started dating in December 2004 while de Rossi was on the Fox sitcom Arrested Development.
In 2008, DeGeneres announced that she was planning on marrying de Rossi after news broke that the California Supreme Court would allow same-sex marriages.