After watching highlights of the Golden Globes (I no longer have the time to watch in full), one moment out of the many clips really struck a chord with me: Kate McKinnon’s words about Ellen and the road she paved. The talented SNL standout expressed a simple, funny, and emotional tribute that really connected with the feelings I had when I first saw “The Puppy Episode” back in the 90’s.
I realize a lot of people are upset with Ellen, and their feelings are valid. However, I can’t deny the impact she has had on me as a gay person, especially during those dark early years.
What Ellen Means to Me
Growing up in heavily Catholic and Latinx area, being gay wasn’t exactly something people accepted. Slurs were common (and still are), and anyone suspected of being gay worried about their safety. This included both physically and mentally. We were all raised to believe that being gay would lead to loneliness, isolation, disease, and ultimately death. Pair that with scarce representation, and well there wasn’t anything to really chase the darkness away.
For me, the early years were a very difficult time. I hated myself and almost everything around me. I was depressed and anxious, which made it hard to control my emotions. People were already saying they could tell I was gay, even if I hadn’t said the words to myself. That made me scared beyond belief.
But then one night, something I had been waiting for for almost a year happened. Ellen DeGeneres, star of her own sitcom, was about to introduce the first gay lead character played by an actual gay person (as far as I knew). As McKinnon said, Ellen was risking it all to tell the truth; her truth.
I’m not afraid to admit I cried a bit when the words “I’m gay” came out of her mouth. That moment made me realize that maybe I wasn’t as alone as I thought, and if Ellen was willing to try and achieve her dreams as an out lgbt individual, why couldn’t I do the same.
So yeah, Ellen May have made mistakes, but she and her work will always hold a place in my heart for giving me that hope.