A clip from Oprah’s interview with Ellen Degeneres, the day Ellen’s “coming out” episode ran on the “Ellen” show in 1997, 17 years ago.
It’s interesting watching this, nearly two decades later (god, we’re getting old).
Ellen talks about how she was always afraid that Oprah wouldn’t like her anymore if she ever found out Ellen was gay.
The other thing that’s so amazing is to see how WELL Ellen handles all of this. There are several audience members who are “Christians” and don’t approve of Ellen. And she just sat there with a smile.
There’s a lesson here for activists in all communities. Sometimes you win by going on TV, biting your tongue, and simply making it your goal to come across as an awfully nice person.
That was always my goal, going on Fox, especially O’Reilly, to talk gay issues in the late 1990s. I put on my “Republican suit,” as my friends called it, cleaned up, and tried to come across as the best little boy in the world. I even called O’Reilly “sir.” He loved it. And the audience loved it (judging by the emails I’d get). And a rather conservative slice of America got to meet one of their first gay people, and they saw that he wasn’t any different from their sons and brothers.
When you’re trying to introduce your community to the world, I’d argue there’s no more effective tactic.