Coming Out And Into The Degeneres Family – Ellen DeGeneres – Brief Article
Actor-writer-director ANNE HECHE reveals her own fragile birth into the gay movement and into a family that loves and supports her
When Advocate editor in chief Judy Wieder asked me to write a few words about coming out as a gay woman while simultaneously coming into the DeGeneres family, I immediately wanted to correct her. I didn’t come out. I came in. I came in to love. I came in to family. I came in to myself.
Since that time, over the past few years, I have had the blessing of learning about discrimination: a curse of misunderstanding, a lack of familiarity with others, a hiding place for feelings that we know very little about how to express.
One of the most important things I have come to understand is that until a person experiences discrimination herself, she cannot know what it is like. We can be compassionate toward those discriminated against, we can love and support them, we can join their right for equality, but we cannot know what it feels like to be judged simply for who we are.
As some of you may know, my birth family did not embrace my coming in. This was my first horror. I thought they would celebrate with me, but they did not. Next came Hollywood. A straight actress turning gay? This was just too much information. As I’ve traveled this journey, it has set me straight–no pun intended. Suddenly I knew what I was here to do, and I knew it the moment I saw this glorious woman, Ellen DeGeneres, across the room. The incredible bonus for me has been her mother, Betty, and brother, Vance.
With their warmth to support me, I came to understand that I was here to show love–discover new ways, every moment, to embrace those who don’t understand and set an example of the joy that comes when one can be herself, without lies, without shame. I have learned that the only way to fight for our rights is to show compassion to those who don’t quite “get it.”
Hate is a powerful emotion. The only thing that is stronger than hate is love. So we must give love at all times, to everyone, even if we don’t understand them. I know this because of the love I received from this sublime family called the DeGeneres family.
ANNE HECHE is an accomplished actress (Return to Paradise; Donnie Brasco; Wag the Dog; Walking and Talking; The Third Miracle; Six Days, Seven Nights; etc.) and a screenwriter-director (the “2000” segment from If These Wall’s Could Talk 2, and Reaching Normal). For this issue Heche wrote “Coming Out and Into the DeGeneres Family” (page 50), about her relationship with her life partner, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, and Ellen’s mother, Betty DeGeneres.
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