"I am so grateful that I've had this platform to not only give a voice to the gay community, but to all people who feel like they're not seen. That to me is something I'm most proud of."
Ellen DeGeneres is taking a look back at the monumental coming out episode of her eponymous sitcom that changed her life — and impacted many others.
On Thursday’s episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the daytime talk show host reflected on the 25th anniversary of “The Puppy Episode,” celebrating the major milestone.
During the April 30, 1997 episode of her sitcom, “Ellen,” Ellen’s character came out as a lesbian. Also, on that day, Ellen did her first TV interview since coming out as gay herself on the April 14th cover of TIME Magazine.
“When I came out, people warned me that it was going to ruin my career, and they were right for a while,” Ellen, 64, recalled on Thursday’s episode. “Actually, for exactly three years, I lost my career. But look at me now.”
“It really goes to show you how important it is to be your authentic self and how important it is to accept others as their authentic selves,” she continued.
“I didn’t see a lot of people like me on television when I was a kid — Peppermint Patty of course,” she quipped, adding, “As soon as I saw those sensible shoes, I knew. The creator said she wasn’t a lesbian, but good grief.”
“So, it’s been 25 years since my coming out episode, and the only time I’m in the closet now is when Portia and I play hide and seek,” Ellen joked, referring to her wife Portia De Rossi, whom she married in 2008 after same-sex marriage became legalized in California.
The Emmy winner went on to share her hopes for the future of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think about what the next 25 years will bring, and I hope that we keep evolving,” she said. “I hope, like a little tiny egg that turns into a caterpillar that then turns into a cocoon that eventually, emerges and spreads its big gay butterfly wings.”
Concluding her monologue, Ellen thanked her viewers, fans and audience for accepting her for who she is.
“A lot of people didn’t think this show would work because I was openly gay, and you proved them wrong,” she said. “This job has been one of the greatest honors of my life really, and thank you for inviting me into your homes for 19 years, and accepting me for who I am.”
“I am so grateful that I’ve had this platform to not only give a voice to the gay community, but to all people who feel like they’re not seen. That to me is something I’m most proud of,” she added. “From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you.”
Meanwhile, during another point in the show, several Ellen staff members and fans, in addition to stars Brandi Carlile, Wanda Sykes, Sarah Paulson and Laverne Cox, got candid about how Ellen’s coming out episode impacted the LGBTQ+ community, television, as well as themselves personally. See the moving tribute in the clip, above.
Also on Wednesday’s episode, actress Lily Tomlin detailed the moment when she came out as gay, revealing who was the first person she told.
See the “Grace & Frankie” star recall the story in the video, below.