Ellen DeGeneres faced a bomb threat
Ellen DeGeneres has revealed that her decision to come out was met with death threats—and even a bomb threat.
The 60-year-old comedian and lesbian icon revealed she was gay in April 1997, posing on the cover of Time magazine alongside the message: “Yep, I’m Gay.”
She received support from many, but speaking to Adweek, DeGeneres revealed that the backlash to her announcement included an incident in which she narrowly avoided mortal danger.
“When I came out, I had death threats and there was a bomb threat, but they misjudged the time of the taping,” she said.
“We had already finished, and thank God.”
The host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which has run for nearly 2,500 episodes, said she was “blindsided” when her program at the time, Ellen, was dropped by ABC after her character came out on the show.
“I knew there would be people that didn’t like it, but I didn’t realise my show would be cancelled,” said DeGeneres.
“I just thought: ‘It’s going to be interesting.’”
Earlier this year, on Netflix show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, she told host Jerry Seinfeld that coming out had a huge effect on her career.
“When I lost my sitcom, I didn’t work for three years solid until I got the talk show,” she said.
“I was bitter and sad and angry. How did this change everything, just by me being honest and saying I’m gay?
“Why is this such a shock to people? Why is it such a big deal?”
DeGeneres went on a tour after her show was cancelled—gay people made up around 90 percent of her audience, she said.
“All the gay people really thought I was doing some kind of gay pride tour, so I was making fun of the fact that I was their leader,” she recalled. “It was like, ‘I am not your leader. I’m nobody’s leader.’”
On an episode of Oprah’s Master Class last year, she said: “It became bigger than I ever thought it would be. Bigger than I wanted it to be. It overshadowed my talent, it overshadowed who I am as a person.
“It was only meant to be, you know, just being honest. And it became this snowball, this avalanche, that just got bigger and bigger and bigger.
“There was no stopping it. It turned into people not liking me, because they thought that I was somehow political all of a sudden.”
In her 1997 Time interview, she said: “I never wanted to be the lesbian actress. I never wanted to be the spokesperson for the gay community. Ever. I did it for my own truth.”
But despite this, a 2015 study revealed that nobody was more influential than her in changing American attitudes about gay rights.