Ellen Back in the Closet!

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Originally uploaded by p2son.

AP News, Burbank, CA.
Ellen DeGeneres, once the most visible lesbian on television, without resistance, strapped into a straight jacket to become the hostess of America’s hottest daytime TV program.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating. Sure everyone tuning in knows that Ellen is lesbian. The fact creates a wonderful tension when watching her show.

Amazing! Middle America LOVES a lesbian—her cute dance moves, chats about Mom and the quirky warmth Ellen exudes. Or do they?

Recently when a publicist asked me if I would consider appearing on Ellen’s program, I responded, “I’m too gay for Ellen, and definitely too political.”

Ellen, in order to continue to woo America has had to straighten out her act. Once driven from the air for coming OUT, now she wows them on-air everyday.

Perhaps she continues to break down walls and “normalize” the queer experience. Maybe, just at the right moment, she will ultimately use her position as one of America’s best loved talk-show hosts to push the envelope that much further.

But maybe America will continue to love and adore her, only as long as she behaves.

This post has 9 Comments

  1. Mark on June 12, 2005 at 7:16 pm

    Confused just a bit by this; is the comment your assessment of the chances of appearing on Ellen based on experience with show reps or something else?

    Enjoy reading your musings, bro.

    (who will be in Hartford visiting my good mate, Keith, in October)

  2. Liz Opp on June 13, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    Peterson, I’m in a bit of a conflict about Ellen, now that you mention her.

    On the one hand, I agree with you: shouldn’t a high profile person of an historically oppressed group use her (or his) position to be an agent of social change?

    On the other hand, shouldn’t a high profile person of an historically oppressed group just be able to live her (or his) life as a regular human being?

    I’m reminded of how tiresome it is for me to “educate” straight people as well as a few gay and lesbian people about what it means for me to be a bisexual woman. I probably don’t or won’t do half the educating that a transgendered person will do, though.

    How do I know if Ellen isn’t just tired of educating folks? How do I know if Ellen isn’t being faithful to the work she is called to do… or if she isn’t wrestling with what may or may not be an intentional choice on her part to “straighten out her act” in order to “woo America”?

    I’m curious what the publicist said to you when you responded to her (or his) invitation.

    I’m also curious if you’ll develop a caricature of Ellen for your performance art. Maybe you already have.

    (It’s hard to believe that I have not yet made it to any of your performances. How embarrassing!)

    Anyway, glad you are around and asking the hard questions.

    Liz, The Good Raised Up

  3. Contemplative Activist on June 14, 2005 at 11:50 am

    I like Ellen, and she’s something of a heroine to at least one lesbian I know.

    I like her precisely because she’s not in your face, but simply getting on with having a job in the public eye. Perhaps we need more Ellens in this world. People who can show that being gay doesn’t mean you have to be obsessed with it, doesn’t mean its the only aspect of your identity and person that people should be interested in. Maybe Ellen is a quiet revolutionary? Getting on with her life and showing that lesbians are people too (even if she doesn’t try to overtly “educate” people).

    We need those people who just get on with it – quietly showing that being gay isn’t all there is to a gay person’s life.

    (Of course we need our activists as well, but I wouldn’t be too quick to write Ellen off…)

  4. Peterson Toscano on June 14, 2005 at 4:32 pm

    I admit, like Liz, I feel conflicted about Ellen’s current presentation of herself on her show. Yeah, I think queer folks should just be able to be themselves and not have to talk about “the issues” all the time.

    I think my blog entry has more to do with America than with Ellen. Lord knows she has done her share to publically speak out about her sexual orientation and queer issues. She should be entitled to just have fun and enjoy the ride.

    And hopefully America will continue tune in if she choses to share more of herself with us through her show.

    And to Mark, I had a long conversation with a publicist who has been working with me about various venues where I can appear. We had decided right away that Ellen’s show is not one for me based on the moratorium that exists about queer issues.

  5. Jennifer on June 15, 2005 at 12:33 am

    Once again, conformity at it’s best. Too many change for society.

  6. Jennifer on June 26, 2005 at 2:42 am

    So, people are thinking that Ellen should represent the gay population. That’s like saying that George Bush adequatly represents the United States population (which is far from the truth). Sure, Ellen might be a good spokesperson type on the topic of homosexuality, but not all the homosexuals in society will totally agree with everything she says if she were to take this reputatable position in society.

  7. Jennifer on June 26, 2005 at 2:47 am

    Ellen representing the gay population is like saying that I should represent those with learning disabilities, kyphosis (most don’t know anything about it and confuse it with scoliosis), and an abnormally located thyroid. She may fit the profile, but that’s way too much effort for any one person to take on.

  8. Regan on June 28, 2005 at 10:25 pm

    Ellen is doing fine. I think a lot of straight guys out there envy that babe she’s been out and about with Portia di Rossi of “Arrested Development.”
    Indeed, Rosie O’Donnell and Melissa Etheridge have the gorgeous wives so many men can only dream of.
    Ellen and Portia just bought a house together.
    In the meantime, I’m working REALLY hard so that maybe by June next year…they can get legally married.
    By the way…in person it’s easy to see why Ellen wins over most people.
    She is REALLY beautiful.
    She has flawless skin and sparkly eyes and she’s very elegant.
    Her intelligence is fierce, but she’s like having warm chocolate chip cookies and icy milk to cheer you up.
    Welcome and comforting at the same time.
    There are some people born to put a fist in the air…and confront injustice one way.
    Ellen isn’t like that.
    She’s sincerely of sweeter nature.
    When a gay kid loses their life…like in the case of Sakia Gunn and Freddie Martinez and Gwen Araujo…Ellen is on the wire with money and everything else to help out without fanfare.
    She’s taken a lot of pain and turned it into what my tribe calls….beautiful medicine.
    And that’s enough.

  9. Caoimhe on May 29, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    personally I love Ellen… Near the end of my time spent with Courage, I was watching her show for the first time, realized she was gay, and suddenly realized… there’s another option (by that time, I was praying for God to either fix me or kill me), one where maybe one day I could be as happy as her…

    so yeah. her public presence as a happy, successful, OUT lesbian… definitely impacted me. her show was the “it gets better” video that completely changed my mind.

    I would love to see you on her show, though. and she does still talk about LGBTQ issues on a semi-regular basis – through the It Gets Better project, her anti-bullying messages, pushing for gay marriage to be legal – it’s not like she’s silent. 🙂

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