Twenty years ago I was an awkward, overweight, acne ridden teen full of angst and the feeling that I was different to my friends. I enjoyed watching American sitcoms on Sky and liked one sitcom more than most. The sitcom revolved around the life of a character called Ellen Morgan.
She was funny and kind and made me feel a bit like how my friends said boys made them feel. I know now that I had a crush on her and had been having crushes on girls for a few years, but at the time I didn’t put a name to it. I just enjoyed watching her and following her life.
Then one day I was sat watching just like every other day I watched and was intrigued about the story arc they were following. Something big seemed to be happening, Ellen was falling for a woman and then BOOM she said it, “I’m Gay”. I will never forget the feeling that rushed over me. As she stood in an airport and came out across the tannoy system, a giant smile spread across my face.
I’d never seen anything like this happen before. What followed were shows covering the story of Ellen coming out in her sitcom and in real life and suddenly I was aware that this could be a thing. This could be ok to be gay (even if I still worried about coming out several years later). That being gay was very much ok because someone just stood on TV and said so.
Someone I looked up to, someone I had something in common with, made me feel that part of me wasn’t something to fear. I have so much to thank Ellen for. What followed for Ellen was so awful though. She experienced death threats, hate mail and even a bomb scare because people felt so strongly about her choice to declare her sexuality publicly.
She paved the way for so many other Gay celebrities to be themselves and not hide who they were. It took a lot for her to put her career on the line like that.
Which is why I still feel it is so important for role models in the public eye to come out when they feel they should. Because in 2017 we still need people to stand up and say being Gay is ok and to give hope to those struggling with their sexuality.
So thank you Ellen. You will never know how much being you mean to me.