Oprah And Ellen Remember The History Changing 'Coming Out' Episode

Oprah And Ellen Remember The History Changing 'Coming Out' Episode

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:00.090
I mean, I hadn't watched it until a few days ago since it aired-

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:04.350
So did I.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:05.100
Yeah. You saw-

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:05.700
What a great show. I was LOLing for real.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:08.341
Yeah. [audience laughs]

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:09.210
Just alone and watching.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:10.830
It holds up.

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:11.190
It holds up. It's funny from beginning to end. All of it is funny.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:14.940
Yeah. Thank you.

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:15.690
Even I was funny and didn't think I was.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:17.281
You were very funny. [audience laughs]

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:17.823
I was so nervous. I was so nervous and you were cracking me up, you know. Especially like in part two, we were talking about the civil rights and going to the back of the bus and like-

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:27.511
Right.

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:27.550
Oh my God. Do we have to go to the back of the bus, too?

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:29.350
Yeah. [laughs]

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:29.550
Yeah. [laughs]

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:30.090
Right.

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:30.960
[laughs]

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:31.100
It was everything. Well, I called you, I was driving. I remember where I was. I was pulling onto the 101, and I called you and asked if you would do this. And... and I was really shocked that you said yes. And my second thought was-

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:44.431
I said yes immediately.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:45.480
Yeah, you did.

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:46.053
Did I not? Yeah, yeah.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:46.501
You did which- [audience laughs]

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:48.810
It wasn't even one of those way. Let me think, let me see.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:51.300
Right.

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:51.310
Yes. Uh-huh.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:51.691
Yeah.

Oprah Winfrey 00:00:52.110
Uh-huh.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:00:52.120
And my second choice was Maya Angelou and... [audience laughs] but you were my first choice. And because I thought, first of all, I love you and you are the queen and I thought you would legitimize all of it. You would make it like people would go, '"Oh, this is... we're not trying to make a joke of this. This is"-

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:07.711
Right, right.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:07.730
"Actually serious."

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:09.120
Well, the thing is, I didn't even think about... I didn't even give it a thought. I didn't even think, "Oh, gee, what will this cost me? What will other people say? How will I be present..." I just said yes because I so believed in your truth. And I so wanted to support you.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:25.831
Did you... but I mean, we've talked since then. So when you said yes right away, even though you've done all the shows about, you know, at that time you're willing-

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:33.150
I was doing Coming Out Day on the show.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:35.253
Right.

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:35.673
But [man coughs] never using a dramatic format like... like what you had.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:40.411
Right.

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:40.420
You had a different platform in which to reach millions of people. I heard 42 million people watched?

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:45.550
Yeah. It was at the time that I think the largest audience of-

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:48.601
Wow.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:48.960
So, so... but you got so much hate mail.

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:52.110
I couldn't believe it.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:53.070
I mean, like really-

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:54.240
I could not-

Ellen DeGeneres 00:01:54.250
Nasty.

Oprah Winfrey 00:01:55.650
It was so bad. The next day after the show, I flew back to Chicago. And the next day, our switchboard, I mean, we had to put another person on the switchboard. I remember something like 900 and something because they couldn't keep up. And I said, "Well, what are people saying?" And the switchboard, I was like, "You don't want to know, ma'am. You don't want to know." And I said, "No, I really want to know what they're saying." And so I started looking at the sheet and there was a lot of, "You go back to Africa." And I was like, "Go back to Africa over a sitcom?" I was on a sitcom. I was talking to Ellen. She spoke her truth and a lot of the N-word, a lot of vile, vitriolic stuff. And, you know, I just... I've been thinking about it, knowing I was going to come on the show. And I was never so surprised by the hatred and the the the... how loud it was, you know, because up until that time, I'd never had [claps] that kind of thing slamming me in the face. And what I thought was, "Oh, gee, I misread that everybody was like us", that they were open minded and that they were receptive and that, you know, wanted people just to be who they are. " So it taught me a lot, actually. It really did.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:03:15.480
Yeah. It really... it was surprising how many people I upset because my whole thing, and I've said this before, that I was a comedian, I was funny. And I just also happened to be gay and I just got tired of hiding it. And I thought, "Well, nothing's going to change. I'm still funny. I'm still the same person. They're just now going to know"... and plus, I assumed that people did know. I didn't think it was going to be that much of a shock. And so it really made-

Oprah Winfrey 00:03:39.540
But 20... just 20 years ago, nobody was actually saying it.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:03:43.110
Right.

Oprah Winfrey 00:03:43.413
So I don't even think it was a shock. It was... it was like, you know, that woman, that was the clip that you hand earlier in my show, like, well, you don't have to tell anybody. You know, 20 years ago, people kept things-

Ellen DeGeneres 00:03:54.630
Right.

Oprah Winfrey 00:03:54.640
To themselves.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:03:55.413
Yeah.

Oprah Winfrey 00:03:55.420
They were quiet. You hid the fact that your husband had an affair. You didn't mention that you... you were pretending to be who you weren't in a way that we no longer find acceptable-

Ellen DeGeneres 00:04:05.280
Yeah.

Oprah Winfrey 00:04:05.290
In our culture.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:04:06.000
Well-

Oprah Winfrey 00:04:06.010
And you are responsible for so much of that changing.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:04:10.560
Well-

Oprah Winfrey 00:04:10.831
You were the bravest woman ever.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:04:12.900
I'm happy that I... [applause] I found that in me. Thank you.

Oprah Winfrey 00:04:21.020
When you think about it? Will you think about [applause subsides] the kind of courage it took? And I know I did a full on interview with you, but now with time and perspective, I mean, just... just watching the other day for the first time since we did it. I was thinking, well, if I got that kind of hate mail and vitriol, what must you have gotten and what must that have done to to to your spirit at the time?

Ellen DeGeneres 00:04:44.680
Yeah. Well, I had a lot of death threats, a lot. And a lot of... and there was a bomb scare when we shot.

Oprah Winfrey 00:04:52.060
Mm-hmm.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:04:52.200
But it was... yeah, it was... it was tough. It was.... I mean, there was always, you know, that's how you... that's why most people don't come out it's because you think you're going to lose your career. And so people just choose a career over, you know, being truthful. And I just decided to feel that that was truthful was more important than a career.

Oprah Winfrey 00:05:09.703
But were you ever really scared? Were you ever afraid that some of the... some some crazy would actually act on it?

Ellen DeGeneres 00:05:16.150
Yeah. And I did have some incidents where I'd be walking down the street and people would scream in... out of a car and scream at me or, you know.

Oprah Winfrey 00:05:25.931
Mm-hmm.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:05:26.200
Yeah. There were some violent things that happened.

Oprah Winfrey 00:05:28.511
Mm.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:05:29.000
But I'd just been made fun of like on late night television, you know. Like I was the butt of every joke. I was-

Oprah Winfrey 00:05:34.721
Mm-hmm.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:05:34.730
Constantly made fun of.

Oprah Winfrey 00:05:36.103
Yeah.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:05:36.580
And, and so it just turned around and, you know.

Oprah Winfrey 00:05:41.140
How... you know what I think, though? This is what I think for everybody who goes through anything where you have denied the truth of yourself and then you're brave enough, your courage enough, you have the courage because your whole calling is about you being who you were meant to be. And the fact that you did that you would not be who you are, a Medal of Freedom, President Obama wouldn't have said those wonderful things about you that were also true. You wouldn't have been able to open hearts and touch hearts and change people's minds and make a difference in the world. Had you not had the courage to do that and 20 years ago, you had no idea it would put you in this seat?

Ellen DeGeneres 00:06:21.550
No, no. And that's why I always encourage people, because it really did teach me, no matter what the cost is at the time-

Oprah Winfrey 00:06:29.353
Yeah.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:06:29.601
It is always important. Like you said, you know, whatever you believe, what... whoever the essence of us is-

Oprah Winfrey 00:06:36.191
Yeah.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:06:36.300
We are born, we are all individual, we are all unique, and we are supposed to be that exact person. We're not supposed to conform. We're not supposed to be like somebody else. We're not supposed to act like somebody else.

Oprah Winfrey 00:06:46.450
Right.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:06:46.460
And as long as you stay true to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways that you can't imagine.

Oprah Winfrey 00:06:52.150
That's right. [applause] Absolutely right.

Ellen DeGeneres 00:06:54.130
All right. [applause] Like you're telling me, I have a... we have a message, a surprise message. So I don't know. There's a lot of surprises today.

Oprah Winfrey 00:07:04.360
Okay.

Michelle Obama 00:07:05.380
Hi, Oprah. Hi, Ellen. [applause] Gosh, I wish I could be there in person, but Barack keeps booking us [chuckles] in all these vacations. In fact, I think we've got a kite surfing lesson at about 5 minutes, so I'm going to make this short and sweet. [faint laughs] But seriously, Ellen, congratulations on the 20th anniversary of announcing to the world who you really are. Time and again, you have shown us what love really means. You are brave, you are kind. You are a terrible person to go shopping with. [audience laughs] And I, absolutely, adore you. Congratulations again. Love you much. [applause]

Ellen DeGeneres 00:07:42.840
I love you, too, Michelle. [applause] We'll be right back.

Recent Articles