Her courageous decision to come out more than 20 years ago on national TV not only helped change hearts and minds, but inspired countless other LGBTQ people to live their truth.
Post submitted by Brian McBride, former HRC Digital Strategist
Over the years, Ellen DeGeneres has come to symbolize what it means to live life authentically. Her courageous decision to come out more than 20 years ago on national TV not only helped change hearts and minds, but inspired countless other LGBTQ people to live their truth.
As HRC celebrates Ellen’s 60th birthday today, we also mark the occasion with a very special #FlashbackFriday commemorating the powerful speech she delivered at our first ever National Dinner back in 1997.
Below is an excerpt from Ellen’s keynote speech:
‘This hasn’t been an easy journey for me. I lived with a sense of shame for a long time. Every interview, I tried to dodge around that dreaded question, “Are you gay?” My answer was always: “My private life is my private life.” And it is. But my sexuality is as much a part of me as my skin color. I tried to justify why I should keep it hidden for as long as I could.
I finally got to a point where living honestly and being proud of who I am was more important than fame. Ironically, my being honest made me more famous. So much for those who said it would hurt my career. I was willing to risk it all and i was reward for it. My life is better than it’s ever been — I found love and there’s nothing more important than that…
I feel so good knowing I’ve made a contribution — that’s my reward. I never wanted to be an activist — i just wanted to entertain people to make them feel good. But as I’ve witnessed the discrimination — the double standards — and heard the statistic of teen suicides — I’ve had to re-think that. If by standing up for what I think is right makes me an activist — I’m an activist.’
Thank you, Ellen, for inspiring a generation.