Ellen DeGeneres opens up about her struggles with coming out of the closet, which included getting flak from Elton John and other celebrities.
DeGeneres revealed a particularly tumultuous period of her life on Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast, according to a report from People.
Coming Out Party
The talk show host began by telling the story of how her sitcom Ellen ended after her decision to come out as a lesbian in 1997 despite the network's insistence not to do so.
When she was finally allowed to come out of the closet, it blew up as the biggest news in the industry at the time. The move created such a buzz that even if she only did interviews with three outlets — Time magazine, Oprah, and Diane Sawyer — people were getting sick of hearing about it.
DeGeneres remembers a particularly tough critic: fellow gay icon John.
"Even Elton John said, 'Shut up already. We know you're gay. Be funny,' " she recalls. "I had never met him and I thought, 'What kind of support is that from a gay person?' But everybody assumed I was just nonstop talking about. It hurt my feelings."
On top of the lack of support, the host had to deal with an onslaught of jokes about her.
"I was really depressed," DeGeneres admits, adding that people assumed she was a failure back then. "No one would touch me. I had no agent, I had no possibility of a job, I had nothing."
While the gay community looked to her for leadership, The Ellen DeGeneres Show host didn't want the responsibility of being political or an activist at the time. All she wanted, she explains, is freedom from her secret.
DeGeneres' conversation with Shepard was a revealing one, as she also shares the tragic loss of her former girlfriend, which led her to pen the skit that gave her the big break she needed.
It was a tough road for DeGeneres to get to where she is now: at the top of her game, one of the most successful women on television, and in a loving relationship with wife Portia de Rossi. For her, it was all worth the struggle.
"I can't believe that I was able to achieve what I achieved, lose it all, and then get to this point in my life at 60 years old," she muses in the interview, Today reports. "Nobody starts over in this business at 45, much less a woman. I'm really grateful that I had that experience and it made me a stronger person."