Ellen DeGeneres Packs Her Bags, But We’re Still Unpacking Her Message

On May 23rd, The Ellen DeGeneres show, after its 2003 debut, ended.  Who would believe today that Ellen had a tough time selling the show, but she did?

She had come out on her own show “Ellen,” a sitcom that ran from 1994-1998 when ABC axed the show in which she was not allowed to say the word ‘Gay,’ but in a Time Magazine interview she, for the record, said “Yep, I’m gay!”

Despite her setbacks, Ellen has been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom and an Emmy for her popular show.  Said Ellen, “I’ve done anything in the past nineteen years.  I hope I have inspired you to be yourself, your true authentic self.  And if someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them.”

Ellen has seen advances in LGBTQ+ equality since entertaining audiences:  same-sex marriage (she is married to Portia de Rossi) became  legal in every U.S. State with current majority approval for it;  gay adoption and surrogacy (governed by states) as viable methods for building families, but still the advances by gay couples seem to be losing ground:

  • Conversion therapy is still practiced in approximately half of U.S. states.
  • The Equality Act bill (H.R. 5) prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system. This bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender orientation.  The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, locker room and dressing room that is in accordance with the individual’s identity.  It has yet to pass the Senate, but did pass the House this year.
  • In March this year, nbcnews.com reported that state lawmakers have proposed a record 238 anti-LGBT bills that would limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans. This figure equates to a  staggering 3 per day.
  • According to the Human Rights Campaign, a transgender woman is four times as likely as a straight woman to be killed. More than 75% of those killed were BIPOC transgender women in 2021 (this figure may be low as not all these deaths are reported).
  • Since the start of 2021, 11 sates have written trans sports bans into law, according to tallies from the American Civil Liberties Union and The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
  • According to espn.com, there is no uniform policy for transgender athletes in youth sports in elementary, middle and high schools.
  • Although the American Medical Association supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatments of gender dysphoria ( mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity), certain states such as Arkansas and Kansas make it crimes for a physician to perform gender reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy. In the states of Washington and Oregon, you can receive treatment without parental consent.
  • In Florida and North Carolina, teachers are being muzzled and can not say the word “Gay” in classes K-3. So, the parents’ authority is not being undermined, they have the right to sue the school and report the teacher.  Librarians have had to remove LGBT-themed books in school libraries.

State rights vs. federal laws?  The child and teacher who can not utter the word “gay” today is no better off than Ellen DeGeneres was in the 1990’s when she was told not to say ‘gay’ on television. This is progress for LGBTQ+ equality?

When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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