Lily Tomlin Explains Why She Turned Down Coming Out on 'Time' 'Magazine' : 'It Was a Hard Decision'

"I wanted to be recognized for my performance," she told Ellen DeGeneres

Lily Tomlin could have been the star to declare, “Yep, I’m Gay.”

The Grace and Frankie star, 79, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday and opened up about receiving an offer from Time to come out on the cover of the magazine in 1975.

“It was a hard decision to make,” she explained.

Ultimately, Tomlin turned down the offer.

“I fell down on the side of … probably after what [Ellen DeGeneres] went through, probably good sense,” she said, poking at DeGeneres, who publicly came out as gay on the cover of Time in 1997.

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Tomlin, who was living openly with her partner Jane Wagner at the time, said she didn’t want her sexuality to overshadow her career as an actress and comedian.

“I just decided that I wasn’t going to play their game,” she said. “I wanted to be recognized for my performance.”

Tomlin and Wagner — who is also the actress’ writing partner — tied the knot on Dec. 31, 2013, after nearly 45 years together.

Grab Cut Insert Cut Lily Tomlin And Jane Wagner
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A few days before their wedding ceremony, they tried to go incognito to get their marriage license.

“We went in Van Nuys because if anyone should see us, we didn’t want them to write about us,” Tomlin previously told PEOPLE. “There were all kinds of young kids there getting married.”

A few days later, they wed in an intimate ceremony at a friend’s house.

“It was sweet,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t have any rings, so I went into our jewelry and was digging out rings. I said, ‘We have to have some kind of rings!’ “

As for the secret to their long-lasting relationship, Tomlin said it all comes down to mutual “admiration and respect.”

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