It’s 2021, and many people feel more free to be themselves than ever before. A good portion of the world now accepts people for all their differences and personal preferences. Yet, it wasn't long ago when publicly coming out as gay was a difficult decision and sometimes even controversial or scary for those who did it. To that end, Portia de Rossi, one-half of arguably the most well-known gay celebrity couple in Hollywood, recently spoke about staying in the proverbial closet until Ellen DeGeneres helped her to embrace who she really was.
The couple met and became friends a few years before they started seriously seeing one another, and Portia de Rossi shared that it was her own cordoned-off sexuality that kept them from starting a relationship, despite a strong connection. In the Arrested Development actress’ own words to People, she stated:
I remember thinking that she was the coolest, most fascinating, beautiful, funniest person I'd ever met. But I, at the time, was closeted; I really wasn't comfortable with my sexuality. I just knew that being with her would be a bit of a thing for me, so we didn't get together after that for about three years.
Even though Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres remained apart for three years after initially meeting and hitting it off, their next noteworthy get-together in 2004 solidified the feelings the two shared for one another, and they’ve been together ever since. The couple married in 2008, when it became legal in California for same sex couples to do so.
Ellen DeGeneres had been a pioneer and champion for gays and lesbians since she came out in 1997, just before her fictional character Ellen Morgan came out as gay on the ABC sitcom Ellen. Both incidents led to backlash and even death threats for DeGeneres and those involved, though it clearly didn't thwart the comedian from moving forward. Portia de Rossi said that while their shared loved helped to overcome her own fear of coming out, it was DeGeneres that fully taught her there is nothing wrong with being gay. Here it is in her own words:
I just got to a point where I chose love over anything else. This was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling. And Ellen really did help me through it just by being there and making me feel more comfortable about who I am — like there was nothing wrong with being gay. I think that's the first time in my life I felt that was true.
Portia de Rossi is just one person that Ellen DeGeneres has helped over the years through championing people with similar stories. By starting relevant conversations, as well as sharing her own stories on her various TV shows (especially her long-running daytime talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show), DeGeneres has remained a prominent advocate for those struggling with their identity, despite her actions being unpopular when she started.
Though the host was at the center of much controversy in the past year following toxic set allegations and the firing of a couple of producers over workplace behavior, it's hard to deny that she's had a positive impact on many people out there. This time, Portia de Rossi was supportive during the backlash.