"Would I still be famous, would they still love me if they knew I was gay?"
Ellen DeGeneres is discussing her coming out journey with Oprah on an episode of Oprah's Master Class. DeGeneres was one of the very first Hollywood stars to come out as gay back in 1997 but thankfully, it's finally becoming a non-issue in today's society. There were shockwaves throughout the industry when DeGeneres revealed her sexual orientation on the Oprah show during that iconic February in the 90s. The 57-year-old revealed that she felt ashamed of herself prior to coming out but ultimately couldn't live a lie any longer.
“I didn’t think I was going to come out, period,” she says in a preview clip. “I didn’t think I’d be coming out on a show, ever.”
It was in fact a meditation retreat that launched her to the conclusion that she needed to speak her truth. And regardless of the possible risks during the time, she went forward bringing a new norm to Hollywood. There was no reason to be in the closet just because you were a celebrity. The times have changed and people's attitudes towards sexual orientation changed as well.
“Someone gave me a gift, a course at a place called Esalen,” she said. The retreat center is located in Big Sur, Calif. “It’s kind of a hippie place, and you go in, and [there’s] no TV and no music and no anything, and it’s just meditation and different things and different courses — and there was a course called Changing the Inner Dialogue of Your Subconscious Mind, and I thought, ‘That would be an interesting course to take because I wanted to know what the inner dialogue of my subconscious mind was.’”
Once DeGeneres was able to relax, she could finally come to terms with her sexuality.
“It was scary and crazy and what came out of listening to what I had been saying to myself was, ‘Would I still be famous, would they still love me if they knew I was gay?’” she said. “And my fear was that no, no they wouldn’t, and then it made me feel ashamed that I was hiding something. It made me feel ashamed that I couldn’t feel honest and really be who I am, and I just didn’t want to pretend to be somebody else anymore so that people would like me.”
Today, DeGeneres is happily married to Portia de Rossi. The two tied the knot back in 2008 and are undoubtedly the most famous lesbian couple in Hollywood. And despite the breakup rumors that have flooded the internet, they have been DEBUNKED.
"We're kind of flattered [by the breakup rumors], because for a while no one cared about us, and we thought 'Oh, lesbians aren't worthy of tabloid stories!'" she explained to Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show in September. "We're kind of flattered that they even care about us."
Ellen's Oprah's Master Class episode will air on Sunday, Oct. 25.