Ellen DeGeneres Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Landmark Television Coming Out Episode [VIDEO]

People reports:

Ellen DeGeneres is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her sitcom’s coming-out episode with a little help from friends like Oprah Winfrey, Laura Dern and Michelle Obama.

Winfrey and Dern — both of whom guest starred in the iconic 1997 episode in which DeGeneres’ character came out as gay — stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week to reflect on the moment.

Though Obama couldn’t be there to mark the milestone with DeGeneres in person, the former first lady surprised her friend with an emotional video tribute that aired on her Friday show.

  • Jamie_Johnson

    To think, there was a time a scant few months ago when we had a First Lady with style, elegance and class…

    • Ernest Endevor

      That’s right. Make me cry. What did I ever do to you?

      • /hands extra tissue to EE

        • Ernest Endevor

          Thanks. I heard the president’s radio address this noon. Imma gonna needa box.

      • Jamie_Johnson

        My apologies. I, too, feel like there’s been a death in the family.

        • Ernest Endevor

          I’d suggest that we huddle together but that might seem stalkerish.

    • MonochromeMouse

      Yeah but now, for the first time ever, we have a first lady who did porn while covered in so much makeup she looked like a slavic fetish actress.

      • FAEN

        While the GOP say nothing about it. But Michelle showing her arms made her the worst FLOTUS ever! Flaunting those ARMS. Meanwhile Melania is practically naked!

        They are beyond morally bankrupt.

        • MonochromeMouse

          There’s a picture from playboy of Melania completely naked. I won’t link it since it’s NSFW but you can google “melania trump naked” and go to the images tab it’s the first result.

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          • SilasMarner

            google “melania trump naked” ? No, you can’t make me, you can’t make me.

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    • Ninja0980

      I miss those days.

    • The hate directed at her was unprecedented. First ladies always get criticism. Women in general get tons for how they dress or act or whatever. Nothing is every going to be good enough to please everyone. But this was different. I remember being at a social thing with friends of my parents and they went on for 30 minutes about how Michelle had twice as much staff as Laura Bush had had. I knew that was bs but I didn’t have my phone with me so I couldn’t fact check it. As soon as I did there was this very lie right there on snopes and other places. There were hundreds of things like this that were circulated about her. Libel really. All designed to play into the idea that she was “uppity”. In other words, “how dare a black women act as if she’s as good as a white woman.” She handled all of it with class and way better than I would have because I’d have gone off on some of those motherfuckers. Who can’t wait to read her book. I’m expecting her to spill some of the tea.

      • Jamie_Johnson

        I had to stop reading all of the maird flung at her by the right, oh, about 8.5 years ago, and could never understand how she rose above it all… so, yeah, pretty much the best role model for young (and middle-aged, and old… heck, let’s just say *all*) women alive today. Can’t wait for her and POTUS’ books, but I don’t expect to hear or see much negativity in either. And that, in a nutshell, shows the difference between the Obamas and the current occupants of the WH: zero negativity vs. nothing-but.

    • SockMikey

      We had class, now we have crass.

      Hopefully the pendulum will quickly swing back to class.

    • SilasMarner

      Now they have a whore as the First Lady, whom I do call the First Whore.

  • jmax

    Seems so long ago. And seems like we have so much further to go.

    • Gigi

      We still have further to go but don’t ever forget how far we’ve come!

      • jmax

        I try to remember that. But if the Republicans running the country have their way, it will be 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

  • bkmn

    She kills the far right every day that she shows people she is pretty much the same as them and not to be feared and hated.

    • Ragnar Lothbrok
    • ChrisMorley

      Props to Ellen, but over 30 years ago British soaps began pioneering out gay characters.

      ‘Unlike American television on which the number of gay characters has steadily shrunk in recent years, there’s far more to gay characters on British soaps… . In 1985, almost a decade before Hollyoaks even existed, in a British soap opera first, Channel 4’s hugely popular groundbreaking soap Brookside became the first British soap to have an out and proud gay character in the young, well spoken, middle class Gordon Collins (Mark Burgess).
      Brookside began life in 1982 and made a name for itself by tackling social and political problems apparent in 1980s Britain. It was sensational and bold and enjoyed being controversial.
      And what could be more sensational, bold and controversial than having
      one of the soap’s well-known and established characters come out as gay.
      Particularly during a time when the passing of Section 28, a controversial amendment to the UK’s Local Government Act of 1986, which pertained to the promotion of homosexuality, wasn’t far off and AIDS cases were on the increase.’ http://www.newnownext.com/gay-storylines-on-british-television-far-ahead-of-the-us/11/2007/

      • FAEN

        I shall have to look for ‘Brookside’. Of course we can’t forget John Inman on ‘Are you being served’. It was very campy but if I remember correctly he wasn’t the butt of jokes.

        • ChrisMorley

          His character was intentionally not out. It was 1972 when he first appeared and it was way too early, even for British TV, for an out gay character. His character was written to be deliberately ambiguous in his sexuality.

          Mr (Wilberforce Claybourne) Humphries lived with his mum.
          He frequently speaks of a companion or companions but refers to them only as “my friend.” The precise status of this friend is never elaborated upon.

          Though Mr. Humphries exhibits many of the behaviors typical of a gay stereotype, his true sexual orientation
          is never explicitly confirmed in the series. The reticence was a necessity given prevailing attitudes at the time the series was produced: after the first five episodes of Are You Being Served?, a senior BBC executive ordered David Croft (one of the two writers) to “Get rid of the poof” from the show – Croft declined, saying: “If the poof goes, I go.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Humphries

          • FAEN

            It seems so many British shows I watched as a kid had David Croft in the credits. Good for him.

          • another_steve

            “His character was written to be deliberately ambiguous in his sexuality.”

            Well that’s certainly not how John Inman played the character. Lol. One had to have just awoken from a coma entered into at age 5 to not immediately recognize that this was a flamboyant gay man.

            The character was brilliantly written and in my opinion Inman gave one of the finest camp screen performances of all time. The only thing that comes even close to Inman’s performance (again imo) was Leonard Frey’s “Harold” in 1970’s “The Boys in the Band.”

            Of course, Frey’s very campy gay man was a sad character whereas Inman’s Mr. Humphries was never that.

          • ChrisMorley

            He played to the camp stereotype, but never revealed the nature of his relationships with his ‘friends’. The whole thing skated on the thin ice of ambiguity, nods and winks, obvious to most of the audience and other characters.
            We had the homophobic christian busybodies of the National Viewers and Listeners Association attempting to flood the BBC with complaints to get it taken off the air, so vaguely plausible deniability was the writers’ get out.
            Gay sex had only very recently been partially decriminalised (for those over 21, in strictly limited circumstances) in 1969, in England and Wales, but not in Scotland or Ireland.

            As a gayling at the time (I was about 21 when it first appeared), I found the crude campness excruciating because it reinforced such a negative stereotype, for laughs. I had accepted myself and was out with other gay men, but not socially. Repressive catholicism took me much time and effort to shed.

          • another_steve

            Interesting background re reaction to the show at the time, Chris. Thanks.

            I suppose one’s personal mindset at the time dictated one’s reaction to the Mr. Humphries character. I came out in 1972 — the year the sitcom began. I was (still am) very into high camp and loved the Mr. Humphries character from the get-go.

            As FAEN noted elsewhere in this thread, Inman’s character was never the butt of jokes. Certainly not overtly homophobic jokes.

            There was some light ribbing — but it was playful, not cruel.

          • Mihangel apYrs

            I’m slightly older than you, and when I was first out the scene was still quite “old style” camp, so Inman was actually quite a positive model in that he was respected by his colleagues and part of it. And it did make fun of everybody.

            My hates from that period were Grayson and Emery (when camping) – they harked back to “Round the Horne”!!!!

      • kcken

        We had a sitcom called SOAP here in 77-81 with a gay character.

        • And before that was Hot L Baltimore. There were some others as well. And a couple of years later Dynasty.

          There are lists online so I won’t bother dredging up what anyone can google but the idea that no show is America had gay characters before 1982 is ridiculous. There weren’t a lot and there was a limit to how much they could get away with. But some important producers did their best, especially Susan Harris, but also many others.

        • Westcoast88

          A gay character who came to his senses a married a woman.

  • FAEN

    I watched that episode with my first boyfriend. We cheered and cried and I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

    PS-God I miss the Obama’s.

  • ellen did one role very well that i really liked. it was bitter, and beautiful. i am not her biggest fan, but she will be in the books about culture. good for her.

    • Tiger Quinn

      What she did was even for you, sourpuss.

  • Ernest Endevor

    See? And she hasn’t been heard from since. Guaranteed career-killer.

  • MikeBx2

    Are we sure 1997 was TWENTY years ago? My how time flies. Congrats to Ellen.

  • Natty Enquirer

    Lovely but I could have done without the Falwell clip. He was such an odious pig.

  • Sam_Handwich

    what?? why am i always the last to know everything?

  • Charlie

    I came out to my Mom shortly thereafter…I decided that if Ellen could do it, I could do it. Major props to Ellen D. from this guy!

    • FAEN

      Sometimes it takes another persons courage to find our own. I hear ya.

  • Oscarlating Wildely

    But our FLOTUS can give you tips on…. porn? Tips in porn? Bad makeup? Too much gold?
    What, exactly, can the current FLOTUS give us tips on doing?

  • Michael R

    Somewhere between the Anita Bryant years and now .

    https://s23.postimg.org/dv3j2jzpn/anita_GIF_recruit_and_pie_together.gif

    • Robincho

      It’s funny — or not — the gamut that humanity can run. You’ve got your Ellen on the one hand, you’ve got your Anita on the other… One is on top of the world, one is bitter and forgotten and alone and in every way impossible to distinguish from a dead woman walking…

      • safari

        I wouldn’t even know of Anita were it for this and Roger & Me.

        • FAEN

          I have yet to see ‘Roger & Me’ but it’s on my ever expanding list.

          • safari

            Flint has lost a lot more since then.

          • FAEN

            Ain’t that the truth.

    • FAEN

      She was already past her prime hate years when I saw her on the ‘Stonewall'(the documentary not the film)and I remember thinking how in the world so many could fall for this small, loathsome, hypocritical, ignorant bat shit crazy person. Now I know. Unfortunately.

    • LADY MABELINE

      Watching that bitch getting pied never gets old. I wish her a painful death. She caused so much harm, despair and misery to so many good honest people.

      • Robincho

        Fuck her death. Death will relieve her of the hideously ignominious decrescendo her “life” has become…

      • I looked, but could not find the clip from Designing Women in which Suzanne goes off on Anita Bryant. Linda Bloodworth who wrote all those episodes deserves credit for being an ally when we didn’t have that many. The episode “Killing all the right people” was one of the first shows to talk about AIDS.

  • Ragnar Lothbrok
    • FAEN

      I’d say it was more than a few hundreds.

      • Ragnar Lothbrok

        I caught that too

  • Ragnar Lothbrok
    • It always looks like her guests have a good time being there. It’s silly and funny and charming.

  • Ninja0980

    LGBT actors in the U.S. today have no idea what Ellen did for them in opening doors for them and ensuring that being openly LGBT (while still facing some prejudices) won’t end your acting career as it did back then.

    • FAEN

      I wish LGBT history was taught in schools. There is a whole generation who have NO idea how hard our forefathers and foremothers had to fight. And that’s a travesty.

      • Ninja0980

        Hell, the kids today have no bad idea how even the start of this decade was, let alone 20-30-40 year and beyond for LGBT people.

        • FAEN

          Yep. We need to change that.

      • safari

        In the ’90s history teaching just sort of stopped at Nixon if you were lucky.

        • FAEN

          Oy!

      • JCF
        • FAEN

          That is fabulous. So goes California so goes the country? Probably not but we can hope right?

  • SoCalGal20

    Holy shit, time flies. That was such a great episode.

    I also moved to California in 1997.

  • greenmanTN

    We forget what a big deal it was at the time. Many of us were out so to us it was “blah blah blah” but it was a huge deal for people who didn’t think they knew anyone gay, and Ellen was a very relatable comic, didn’t say “bad” words.

  • worstcultever

    I still love re-watching the historic and perennially brilliant “Puppy Episode.” It was so full of laffs, great writing, goofiness, awesome/funny guest star turns (esp Laura Dern and Oprah) and cameos, and Ellen herself at her sweetest, smartest, most vulnerable, and most beautiful. (I even loved the Richard character – what a sport!)

    And with Ellen such a big deal now, it’s still hard to believe the hit her career took for a good while afterward (Dern too).

    Anyway, one of the greatest mainstream-media queer events of my lifetime. I’ll always be grateful to Ellen and everybody else who made it happen.

    • I watched her show the entire run. It was always uneven and costars (and writers) came and went with alarming frequency. But it was always fun and funny so I stayed with it. The show after her coming out was also wildly uneven with a few good but quite a few not so good episodes. Even so, her ratings were higher than several shows ABC kept on at the time. They clearly just weren’t committed to the show.

  • We are very lucky to have her in our corner.

  • Ish

    And now this vacuous piece of shit is normalizing George Bush.

  • fuzzybits

    I remember being part of a demonstration outside of Wendy’s because they dropped their sponsorship of Ellen’s show.

    • Westcoast88

      Wendy’s was not a sponsor of her show, and they did not have any ads scheduled to run. Even so, they went out of their way to let us all know that they were not going to advertise on this episode, which was egregious, far worse than those who pulled their commercials.
      At the time I swore that I would never set foot in a Wendy’s until the CEO Dave apologized to Ellen and all of America. That never happened. Dave died of a heart attack from eating his own hamburgers. And I have still not gone to Wendy’s.

      • fuzzybits

        You’re right. it’s been 20 years so the mind,ya know. And living in the city that is the headquarters we all know Dave well.

  • Charlie 2001
  • Wow. 20 years. It seems like it happened last week. It will be hard for young’uns to comprehend what a big fucking deal this was. Hardly anyone was out in the entertainment world. Oh sure plenty, like Ellen and Rosie, were hardly secrets but middle America did not know. Seriously. They didn’t. So this was a big deal because she did it on her own terms and in her own way. I think she’s found her niche on daytime though.

  • greenmanTN

    Way back when I started a thread on Datalounge called “Early Indications You Might Be Gay.” My offering was about running around in red white and blue shorts lassoing things with golden gift wrapping rope from the Hallmark store. I was Wonder BOY and I got really good with that lasso.

    Ellen DeGeneres, at least I think, showed up to talk about a cowboy outfit she had as a child.

    My older brother is gay also. There is a hilarious 8mm film of him with my sister on Christmas morning. She pushed him away and put his gun and cowboy hat on, and threw her “nurse” hat on the floor. My sister would make a really great lesbian.

    A very similar thread came up later, “Dialing The Phone With A Pencil.”

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  • SnowFlake

    Its great she has her own show, but oh lord I cannot stand it.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    “Coming out” towards the end of the 20c is no big deal or brave thing compared to those who were out in the 70s, and trying to make things better from then