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Dope Moments in History: Ellen Degeneres

Fuck yeah, Ellen Degeneres.

By Triple Decker SandwichPublished 7 years ago 3 min read

There's this shirt that I see a lot, it says "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History."

Hell yeah.

(I actually believe that well-behaved people don't often make history, but I'm not touching that issue. Not here at least.)

Let's get back to the dopeness of the hour, the Justin Beiber looking daytime television killer, thriller and probably chiller, Ellen D! A woman who did not behave well, who did not hold back, and who told the truth in the face of adversity. It's dope, she's dope.

It's 1997, and things are different than they are today. Bill Clinton is polling well with Black voters despite his administration's continued enforcement of the war on poverty, excuse me, drugs. Clinton also introduced that bullshit Three Strikes policy. Read more about his bullshit here). Melissa Drexler is leaving a baby in a trashcan somewhere in New Jersey and the tragic death of Matthew Sheppard is one year in the future and NSYNC had popped off in Germany, but not America. Trippy, right, it's true though. We're not in a post sexuality or post any social issue society, but we've certainly made real strides.

It's 1997 and Ellen Degeneres is a comic and the lead of her own show Ellen, airing on ABC Channel. I imagine it was hard. Life is hard, life is harder in the public eye, and life is even harder when you're living with a secret.

The year earlier, in '96, she bombed at the box office as a leading lady. The movie you ask? The aptly titled Mr. Wrong.There's no way that isn't hard. Being gay, even today is noteworthy. It's something people will talk about and in our celebrity culture—it becomes the centerpiece to your identity to so many people. Even in 2017, even Neil Patrick Harris can't escape representing gay people with everything he does, with every role he takes. It's rough.

Imagine the pressure in 1997.

"I expected to be attacked. I expected all of that. And that was the fear for so long; losing everything, of losing everything. Of losing my home and my career and losing everything," Ellen said on Oprah.

To be so well-spoken with the spotlight on you for your personal life. Nevermind for being a television star, never mind getting lead roles in major studio backed films, never mind for her sharp tongue and strong wit, the spotlight was on her strictly for her sexual life. If Ellen is a human like you and I are—and she is—sex is complicated to begin with. But she didn't falter, she was eloquent and real and all the things you want in a friend.

But why is Ellen coming out of the closet in 1997 one of the truly most dope moments? It's dope because we needed it so badly.

The civil rights movement, the female empowerment movement, these were so pivotal to change. Probably the greatest achievement of these early movements was their ability to ask privileged or ruling class Americans to look beyond themselves into the struggles of their neighbor with empathy and understanding. While Americans have been won over to more liberal social politics slowly and over time, empathy has been pervasive, which is great.

And so who, then, has the greatest powers to advance the rights of people? It's your neighbor, that's who.

By admitting that this population of people that are easy to judge (be it a race, gender, sexuality, fetish, whatever) are our neighbors, we are given an opportunity to rethink and redefine. It's awesome. The best way to combat racism? Get to know people of other races. Same can be said for sexuality.

And that's who Ellen was. Her show was realistic, it wasn't about superheroes or CEO's, it was about people. Ellen being gay, the Ellen you already knew, being gay—that means regular people can be gay. Lesbian isn't a truck stop in Arkansas or some other stereotype, it's the people around you and it always has been, but now you know.

That's why this is a dope moment, because an 'Everywoman' was something we didn't all agree with, and she didn't let it stop her.

Matthew Sheppard was brutally murdered the next year in 1998. Remember that.

Maybe Ellen is part of the reason America cared about Matt. He certainly wasn't the first person murdered for his sexuality or gender identity, he probably wasn't the last either.

At least we knew to care.

And that's dope.

Thank you, Ellen, for this dope moment in history and the many dope moments you've made in your life.


pop culture

About the Creator

Triple Decker Sandwich

I was in the bleachers now you know I'm shot calling

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    Triple Decker SandwichWritten by Triple Decker Sandwich

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