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Ellen DeGeneres' Wife of 13 Years 'Didn't Want to Be a Lesbian' until She Was Charmed by the TV Host

Gaone Pule
Mar 15, 2022
11:20 A.M.
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America's beloved television host Ellen DeGeneres has been married to Portia de Rossi for over a decade. De Rossi came out after she struggled with her sexuality, saying she did not want to be a lesbian.


Ellen DeGeneres is an acclaimed entertainer, a comedienne, a TV host, and an advocate for LGBTQ rights. She hit the big time as a stand-up comedian before securing her sitcom, "Ellen," which aired from 1994 to 1998. 

Since 2003, the 64-year-old has hosted her award-winning daytime talk show, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and wed her longtime girlfriend, Portia de Rossi, in 2008.  

(L) Comedian Ellen DeGeneres with wife actress Portia de Rossi celebrating Cheryl Howard Crew's New Book "In The Face of Jinn" at a Private Residence in Pacific Palisades, California. (R) Ellen DeGeneres posing with Portia de Rossi on Valentine's Day. | Source: Getty Images and Instagram/@portiaderossi



DeGeneres used her platform years ago to drop the bombshell she is gay, and it sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry. 

Her on-screen character, Ellen Morgan, who played the lead role on the show "Ellen," came out as gay during the fourth season on April 30, 1997, and that consequently brought the series to the forefront of harsh criticism.

In addition to her character coming out, DeGeneres also publicly disclosed that she was gay. Per Biography, almost a year went into preparation for the ground-breaking episode.  


Actress Ellen DeGeneres posing as Ellen Morgan during Season One of the 1994 sitcom "Ellen" on July 29, 1994. / Source: Getty Images

Preparation for her character (Morgan) to reveal her sexuality on the series began in May 1996. DeGeneres discussed the potential storyline with the show's writers and informed them that she intended to come out publicly. 


Coming out in public would also address the fictional Morgan's sexual preferences, which might provide direction for the TV show and explain why the character lacked chemistry with male romantic partners.  

The network needed to agree to become the first TV show to announce that a lead character was gay. Yet when the team initially proposed the subject, one executive reportedly wanted Morgan to get a puppy instead.  


Eventually, the network reached some compromise and agreed to air the storyline, but the earlier exchange inspired the episode's title: "The Puppy Episode." DeGeneres later revealed to People: 

"It was called 'The Puppy Episode' because we wanted to keep it a secret until it aired and because 'Ellen Throws Her Career Away' seemed too on the nose.'" 

Per Entertainment Weekly, DeGeneres often dropped hints by making jokes about the upcoming storyline, saying her character would reveal that she was Lebanese or that a character named Les Bian would become part of the show. 


But matters got serious when the time came to make the episode. Scripts were produced on red paper with black ink (a complex combination to photocopy) and needed to be shredded or returned to a studio safe by the end of the day. She later shared the experience with Page Six: 

"It was like we were spies or something." 

When the coming-out episode ultimately aired, it received support and a lot of backlashes. Many people were ecstatic when the news spread about the upcoming episode. Some sent letters of gratitude and appreciation.  


At the same time, hate mail poured into DeGeneres' offices. Reverend Jerry Falwell and televangelist Pat Robertson publicly mocked her as "Ellen DeGenerate." At one point, there was even a bomb threat in the studio. The Louisiana native told Page Six in 2017: 

"I had no idea the amount of hate. I had no idea that there would be death threats or a bomb scare. It was a scary time." 



DeGeneres is now happily married to Australian American actress de Rossi, known for playing the cold and calculating Nelle Porter on "Ally McBeal" and Lindsay Bluth-Funke on "Arrested Development." 

The 49-year-old's marriage to DeGeneres is not her first high-profile relationship. De Rossi was previously married to male filmmaker Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 1999.  

The pair were married for three years before they called it quits, with de Rossi later admitting that she wed Metcalfe only to get a green card.  


The "Sirens" star was dating lesbian writer/director Francesca Gregorini privately while remaining in the closet from her family and the public.  

The two were even engaged and lived together for three years. After the duo decided to part ways, they remained friends. Gregorini even shared she was friends with DeGeneres too.  


In 2013, de Rossi candidly spoke about her coming out in 2005, revealing to E! News that she did not want to be a lesbian. She found it peculiar to be gay at the time, mainly because she did not know any Hollywood A-Lister who had come out.  

Personally, de Rossi had never met a gay person and believed they were strange and hated men and were very serious. She had a misleading perception, and not knowing any celebrity or politician she could look up to did not ease the situation.  

Moreover, there was no one she could say that she would date or emulate and merely told herself that she could not live her life that way. Instead, she shut down her emotional life.  



De Rossi did not date at all during that period because she tried to hide her sexuality. But that all changed when she met DeGeneres backstage at an awards show in 2004.  

When the lovebirds first met, they felt a mutual connection. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, de Rossi admitted that for her, it was love at first sight: 

"I was closeted and very, very afraid that if I talked about being gay, it would be the end of my career, so I wasn't about to date the most famous lesbian in the world." 


A few years down the line, de Rossi fully came to terms with the extent of her feelings while on a photoshoot with the writer. She walked up to greet her, and she could not believe it, but DeGeneres turned around, and it was as though someone shot an arrow through her heart.  

De Rossi's knees buckled, and she became overwhelmed with how she felt, but it took another ten months to get the courage to act on her feelings.  


She and DeGeneres eventually began dating in December 2004. The "Finding Nemo" star announced on her talk show that they were going to get married after the California Supreme Court overturned the ban on same-sex marriage in 2008.  

Initially, DeGeneres planned on surprising de Rossi with a private ceremony during a joint birthday party, but the law change redirected her plans. Shortly after, de Rossi flaunted her marquis-cut diamond engagement ring on the red carpet, and the couple discussed their upcoming wedding.  

On August 16, 2008, DeGeneres and de Rossi exchanged their wedding vows in front of 19 friends and family members at their Los Angeles home. 


They both donned custom off-white Zac Posen designs. DeGeneres, who shared a video of her looking speechless uttering the words "Oh, my God," after seeing her wife-to-be, opted for a pant two-piece, while her lovely bride chose a long sleeveless tulle gown.  



In commemoration of their 13th wedding anniversary in August 2021, the couple paid tributes to each other on Instagram. DeGeneres posted a selfie of the couple relaxing outdoors and wrote that she was the luckiest woman in the world for having de Rossi in her life: 

"Happy anniversary, Portia. I'm the luckiest girl in the world because I get to share my life with you." 


Meanwhile, de Rossi also shared throwback snapshots of the pair from their relationship over the years, with one image showing them wearing coordinating floral outfits. She captioned the post: 

"13 years ago, I married the love of my life. And it just keeps getting better." 


In February that year, the twosome opened up about their marriage and revealed how they prioritize it and keep it intact amid their busy schedules.  

De Rossi said they had grown a lot as a couple. They are considerate of one another and put their relationship first, which makes the union more solid. De Rossi noted she could not imagine her life without DeGeneres. 

Who then chimed in and said they think alike, say the same things simultaneously, while joking that they finish each other's sandwiches and not sentences, but most importantly, they are in sync.  


When asked what they love most about each other, DeGeneres said she adores de Rossi's appearance and loves how she thinks, which is important.  

De Rossi added her wife is strong, confident, and extremely funny. Moreover, DeGeneres is a good dresser and dancer learning how to cook.  

On the best part about being a married couple, DeGeneres said there was not the best part because marriage is everything. She could not even imagine not being married now that she has her best friend, the person she wants to spend the rest of her life with than anybody else. 


In October 2019, DeGeneres told People that their priorities are to each other and that if they have kids one day, they would be their priority because it is crucial.  

DeGeneres spoke to Matt Lauer on "Today" in March 2015 on whether she and de Rossi plan to have children. "I think I would. But that's not enough to have kids. I love kids. But that's such a big commitment," she said, adding because the responsibility is long-term, one would have to stick with it, which is risky.