Today is National Coming Out Day. It takes place in October, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month. So a chance to dip into the commencement address archives for poignant story of coming out and embracing the pain and failure that sadly accompanies it too often.
Ellen Degeneres is one of my favourite comediennes. I think American society has come a long way since networks small-mindedly ripped the delightful “Ellen” sitcom (that we diligently watched each week of its run) from the viewing schedule after her coming out announcement.
Ellen Degeneres graduated not only from the “school of hard knocks” (“our mascot was the Knockers”) including losing a girlfriend to a car accident. But most prominent is the intense, high-impact pressure piled on her for her sexual orientation and the huge toll her authenticity took on her life (thanks Dave)…
- “I decided to come out and make it creative. And my character would come out at the same time, and it wasn’t to make a political statement, it wasn’t to do anything other than to free myself up from this heaviness that I was carrying around. And I just wanted to be honest. And I thought ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ I could lose my career. I did. I lost my career. The show was cancelled after 6 years (without even telling me, I read it in the paper). The phone didn’t ring for three years. I had no offers, nobody wanted to touch me at all. And yet I was getting letters from kids that almost committed suicide but didn’t because of what I did. And I realize that I had a purpose. And it wasn’t about me and it wasn’t about celebrity. I felt like I was being punished. It was a bad time. I was angry. I was sad. And then I was offered a talk show. And the people who offered me the talk show tried to sell it and most stations didn’t want to pick it up. Most people didn’t want to buy it because they thought that no one would watch me. And really when I look back on it, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was so important for me to lose everything because I found out that what was important was to be true to yourself. And ultimately that’s what has gotten me to this place.”