Ellen DeGeneres Celebrates Publicly Coming Out 20 Years Ago

This is SO important!

Ellen DeGeneres Celebrates Publicly Coming Out 20 Years Ago

Image: TIME

It's now officially been 20 years since Ellen DeGeneres came out as gay.

In May of 1996, Ellen was writing and starring in her own TV sitcom Ellen.

Her character on the show was straight, but all of her close friends, family and co-workers knew she was gay and she had decided that it was time that the rest of the world knew too.

She decided that she and her television alter ego, would both be publicly announcing their sexual orientation.

On April 30, 1997 Ellen aired 'The Puppy Episode' and came out as gay on national TV.

These days, this wouldn't be an uncommon thing for a character to do, but back in 1997, it was huge.

Ellen decided to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of her "coming out episode" on The Ellen Show and things got VERY emotional.

In her opening monologue, she explained that when the writers of Ellen approached studio executives about her coming out on the show, they weren't exactly thrilled about it.

"The real reason we called it 'The Puppy Episode' was because when the writers told the executives that they wanted me to come out- because my character needed to be in a relationship after four years of not being in a relationship- someone at the studio said 'well, get her a puppy she's not coming out'. "

At the time, the episode was incredibly controversial and so, 20 years on, Ellen thought it was the perfect thing to celebrate "to appreciate how far we have come".

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"It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life, and I wouldn't change one moment of it, because it led me to be exactly where I am today, standing in front of you."

Ellen has celebrated the anniversary by having actors from 'The Puppy Episode' on her talk show and things got VERY emotional.

She's also posted a series of throwbacks on social media and we LOVE them!

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We love you Ellen and we always will!

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