Oprah and Ellen Remember the History-Changing ‘Coming Out’ Episode

Oprah and Ellen Remember the History-Changing ‘Coming Out’ Episode


I mean, I hadn’t watched it until
a few days ago, since it aired.>>So did I.
Yeah, you saw it too.>>What a great show,
I was LOL-ing for real.>>[LAUGH]
>>Just alone, and watching it.>>It holds up.>>It holds up, it’s funny from
beginning to end, all of it’s funny.>>Yeah, thank you.>>Even I was funny,
and didn’t think I was.>>You were very funny.>>I was so nervous, I was so
nervous, and you were cracking me up. Especially like in part two, where you’re talking about the civil
rights and going to the back of the bus. And like, my God, do we have to
go to the back of the bus too?>>[LAUGH]
>>Yeah, 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 I was really shocked
that you said yes. And my second-
>>I said yes immediately, did I not?>>Yeah, you did, you did.>>[LAUGH]
>>It wasn’t even one of those, wait, let me think, let me see.>>Right.
>>Yes, uh-huh.>>And my second choice was Maya Angelou.>>[LAUGH]
>>But you were my first choice. And cuz 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,
this is, we’re not trying to make a joke of this. This is actually serious.>>Well, the thing is, I didn’t even think
about, I didn’t even give it a thought. I didn’t even think, gee,
what will this cost me? What will other people say,
how will I be presented? I just said yes, because I so
believed in your truth, and I so wanted to support you.>>But did you, I mean,
we’ve talked since then. So when you said yes away, even though
you’ve done all the shows about, at that time-
>>I was doing Coming Out Day on the show.>>Right.
>>But never using a dramatic
format like what you had. You had a different platform,
in which to reach millions of people, I heard 42 million people watched?>>Yeah, it was, at the time, I think, the largest audience of-
>>Wow.>>So, but you got so much hate mail.>>I couldn’t believe it.>>I mean, like really nasty.>>It was so bad, the next day after
the show, I flew back to Chicago. And the next day, out switchboard, I mean, we had to put another
person on the switchboard. I remember something like 900 and
something calls, they couldn’t keep up. And I said, well, what are people saying? And the switchboard operator’s like,
you don’t wanna know, Ma’am, you don’t wanna know. And I said, no,
I really want to know what they’re saying. And so,
I started looking at the sheet, and there’s a lot of, you go back to Africa. And I was like,
go back to Africa over a sitcom? I was on an sitcom, I was talking
to Ellen, and she spoke her truth. And a lot of the N-word,
a lot of vile, vitriolic stuff. And, I’ve been thinking about it,
knowing I was gonna come on the show. And I was never so
surprised, by the hatred and how loud it was. Because up until that time, I never had that kind of thing
slamming me in the face. And what I thought was, gee,
I misread that everybody was like us. That they were open-minded, and
that they were receptive, and that, wanted people just
to be who they are. So it taught me a lot,
actually, it really did.>>Yeah, it really, it was surprising
how many people lay upset. Because my whole thing, and I’ve said
this before, that I was a comedian. I was funny, and I just so happen to be
gay, and I just got tired of hiding it. And I thought, well,
nothing is going 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 gonna be that
much of a shock, and so it really->>But just 20 years ago, nobody was actually saying it. So I don’t even think it was the shock, it was like that woman,
that clip that you ran earlier on my show. Like, you don’t have to tell anybody. 20 years ago, people kept things
to themselves, they were quiet. You hid the fact that your husband
had an affair, you didn’t mention it. You were pretending to be who you weren’t, in a way that we no longer find
acceptable in our culture. And you are responsible for so much of that changing,
you were the bravest woman ever.>>I’m happy that I-
>>[APPLAUSE]>>I found that in me. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]
>>When you think about it, when you think about 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 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 your spirit at that time?>>Yeah,
I have a lot of death threats, a lot. And a lot of, and
there was a bomb scare when we shot. But it was, yeah, it was tough. I mean, there was always, that’s how you, that’s why most people don’t come out as,
cuz you think you can lose your career. And so, people just choose
a career over being truthful. And I just decided to feel
that that was truthful, was more important than a career.>>But were you ever really scared? Were you ever afraid that some
crazy would actually act on it?>>Yeah, and I did have some incidents
where I’d be walking down the street. And people would scream out of car,
and scream at me, or, yeah. There were some violent
things that happened. But, and just being made fun
of on late night television, I was the butt of every joke. I was constantly made fun of,
and so it just turned around.>>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 are brave enough,
you have 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 would not
be who you are, Medal of freedom. President Obama wouldn’t have said
those wonderful things about you, that were all so 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.>>No, no, and
that’s why I always encourage people, cuz it really did teach me. No matter what the cost is at the time,
it is always important. Like you said, whatever you believe,
whoever the essence of us is. We’re 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 be like somebody else, we’re not supposed to
act like somebody else. And as long as you stay true
to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways
that you can’t imagine.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>That’s right, absolutely right.>>All right, thanks for
coming, you have a->>[APPLAUSE]>>We have a message, a surprise message, so, I don’t know,
there’s a lot of surprises today.>>Okay.>>Hi, Oprah. Hi, Ellen.
[APPLAUSE]>>Gosh, I wish I could be there in person, but Barack keeps
booking us on all these vacations. In fact, I think we’ve got a kite
surfing lesson in about five minutes, so I’m going to make this short and sweet. 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.>>[LAUGH]
>>And I absolutely adore you. Congratulations again, love you much. [APPLAUSE]
>>I love you too, Michelle! We’ll be right back.

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