Why Ellen DeGeneres Almost Didn’t Come Out

Oct 26, 2015 at 4:19 pm |
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It’s not news that Ellen DeGeneres is openly gay. She was one of the first female celebrities to come out publicly and she did it on television on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

While it may seem easier for celebrities to come out to the public these days, remember that mainstream America didn’t get it’s first gay female kiss on television until 1996, on an episodes of Friends, so it’s understandable that at the time she was scared of the reaction.

ellen degeneres and portia de rossi holding hands

Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Even though she is now out of the closet and a proud lesbian and in an awesomely adorable marriage with actress Portia De Rossi, it was a struggle for her to finally come to the decision to be public about her sexuality. Especially being a known celebrity, there’s still societal backlash to be nervous about.

On Oprah Winfrey’s Master Class show on the OWN network, she discusses how it was a difficult decision for her. “It was scary and crazy and what came out of listening to what I had been saying to myself is, ‘Would I still be famous? Would they still love me if they knew I was gay?’ ” she says in the clip below. “And my fear was, no, they wouldn’t. Then it made me feel shame that I was hiding something… I just didn’t want to pretend to be somebody else anymore so that people would like me.”

Even for celebrities, coming out is a extremely difficult choice that requires a lot of courage and soul searching. But the freedom to be who you really are outweighs the fear. “I am not fearless. I didn’t do it because I am fearless. I did it in spite of the fact that I was scared to death,” Ellen said. Not matter what mask you wear, it’s life changing if you decide to take it off and be free.

Watch Oprah’s Master Class when it airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on OWN.

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