Today, Ellen DeGeneres’ hit talk show, Ellen, begins its 15th season, marking a decade and a half of bringing her trademark humor, wit and compassion into our homes.
At its helm, Ellen continues to push for justice and LGBTQ equality, proving that DeGeneres is far more than just a comedic star. Throughout the years, both on-air and off, DeGeneres has been a seminal figure in shaping America’s attitudes towards LGBTQ people and showing LGBTQ people in a positive light.
In honor of today’s episode, HRC remembers the 15 times that Ellen has inspired us, moved us and helped make our society just a little bit more inclusive.
1. When she spoke out against bullying on her talk show in the wake of tragedies involving LGBTQ youth suicides.
2. When, after an anti-LGBTQ pastor accused her of celebrating her “lesbianism,” she responded in classic Ellen DeGeneres fashion.
3. When DeGeneres invited a gay Iraqi couple onto the show to discuss their difficult journey to happiness.
4. When DeGeneres spoke out against Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ Law.
5. When she donated $25,000 to a fund for the survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting, and gave Tony Marrero -- one of the survivors -- the surprise of a lifetime.
6. When former President Barack Obama awarded DeGeneres the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation’s highest civilian honor -- reminding us why she is such a pioneer.
7. When she featured two best friends on her show -- one gay, the other straight -- who attended prom together.
8. When she told our nation’s youth that there’s nothing wrong with being different.
9. When DeGeneres praised a lesbian teenager who fought for the right to take her girlfriend to prom.
10. When, on the 20th anniversary of her coming out, Warner Brothers donated $50,000 to HRC in her name.
11. When DeGeneres praised Ellen Page for coming out at HRC’s first ever Time to THRIVE conference.
12. When she gave Blossom Brown, a transgender student and HRC volunteer, $20,000 to help her follow her dream of becoming nurse.
13. When she spoke out against hate and advocated for tolerance after the murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay man who was brutally killed in Wyoming.
14. When former President Obama praised her for making our country a little more accepting of one another.
15. And of course the moment that started it all -- when she decided to come out in the most public way possible on her TV show, Ellen.