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Ellen DeGeneres Reminisces About Groundbreaking Talk Show

There is just over a week until the final episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show airs. Ahead of that momentous occasion, Ellen DeGeneres looked back on her trailblazing chatfest with The Advocate.

Of the early days, she remembered:

I think we only had about three affiliates that picked it up. A lot of decision-makers around the country weren’t wild about me, out Ellen, being on their stations. As a matter of fact, the distributors of the show were really trying to sell the Sharon Osbourne show too, so they tried to sell us as a package deal. However, I was the side dish of coleslaw to Sharon’s main dish of barbeque chicken. Then, once my show aired, it started to become popular, which surprised everyone, and as the show took off it gave me more of an opportunity to be myself.

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When the show first aired, she was not allowed to be honest about her life. DeGeneres recalled:

I couldn’t talk about Portia [de Rossi]. I couldn’t say the word ‘we’ since that would imply there was someone special in my life. They told me to dress a certain way — no jeans, for example. I guess jeans were considered gay? Oh, and I couldn’t say that word — ‘gay.’ I wasn’t happy about it, so if the situation changed with the show, I knew I’d have some power to change the show.

As the years went by, she did indeed change things, and she also made a concerted effort to book LGBTQ+ guests and give them a platform. The comedian said:

Any time I heard or read about someone who was queer and who was brave enough to come out, I booked them on the show. Not only did I want to talk to them, but I wanted my audience to meet them, and the more visible they were, the better message it sent to people, particularly those who are struggling to come out and looking for examples that might help encourage them.