in this addition of OLD PEOPLE NOTES
Just in case you ever get down about progress in this country.
Ellen came out as gay in 1997 and back then it was A HUGE FUCKING SHITSTORM like everyone was like WTF THIS PROMINENT TV STAR IS GAY HOW IS THIS HAPPENINNGGGG. Nowadays, celebrities come out left and right and may get a little buzz for a week, but no one cares that much anymore. So we’re making strides towards acceptance, even if we’re not there yet.
Shortly after Ellen herself came out, her character in her eponymous sitcom Ellen, also publicly came out, after weeks of teasing the audience with gags like the one above. This is was also a media shitstorm, because this was the first time that a popular television show had a gay main character. And it took four seasons for it to come to light.
Unlike the real Ellen, the character Ellen was deeply troubled by her feelings and refused to accept the fact that she was gay until the bitter end. I suggest you watch the coming out episode which is curiously titled “The Puppy Episode” (actually a reference to a remark by a producer of the show who said something along the lines of, “If Ellen is never interested in dating, maybe she should get a puppy.” The producer was unaware that the puppy Ellen wanted was in fact a woman.)
This is one of the most important television moments in cultural history, and it wasn’t without its drawbacks. Despite being one of the best rated episodes in the history of the show, audiences ultimately weren’t comfortable with a show centered around a lesbian and Ellen was canceled the very next year.
Everyone loves Ellen, because she is just an altogether likeable and amazing person, but I’m not sure if people realize just how important she has been and will be to the success of LGBT movement.