Ellen came out on her sitcom over twenty years ago, and since then no other American celebrity has done more to bridge the gap between LGBTQ and straight people than her.
Even as she made it big and her show is watched by people all over the world, Ellen still brings her sexual identity to the show regularly, never hiding who she is.
There were a lot of great LGBTQ moments from The Ellen Degeneres Show in 2017. Here are the ten best.
10. Ellen talks to a couple of inspiring gay dads
In June, Ellen talked with gay dads Rob and Reece, who adopted four children with special needs… and about the farm they bought for their family.
Ellen interviewed a few other everyday LGBTQ people this year, and this one stands out because of the passion Rob and Reece showed for parenting, something that a lot of people still don’t think gay people should be allowed to do. They’re really inspiring.
9. Ellen makes fun of straight people in a new segment
When I saw this segment, my first thought was, “Oh my god, they finally broke Ellen.”
In October, she introduced a segment called “Oh Straight People,” where she showed a headline of straight people doing something and then said, “Oh, straight people!”
Frankly, it’s not all that funny and, judging Facebook comments, a lot of you didn’t like it.
What I liked about it is that this is the sort of humor that I have only ever heard when among family. It was one of the most unapologetically queer moments that I have ever seen on mainstream television.
Also, a lot of straight people watch Ellen, and they got a chance to see complete strangers’ antics associated with their own sexual identity.
8. Ellen has fun with a gay teacher who pranked his students
A video of Joe Dombrowski giving a fake spelling test on April Fools Day to his students with words like “Ro-laska-tox” (a reference to RuPaul’s Drag Race) went viral.
He was on the show, and he was right at home in front of the cameras, cracking wise with Ellen like he’d been doing it for years. And the love Dombrowski had for his students at the low-income school he works at shined through.
While their conversation is a lot of fun to watch, what happened there went a lot deeper – he was another LGBTQ person Ellen talked to who had a job that just a few decades ago states were trying to ban us from.
7. Asia Kate Dillon explains to Ellen what non-binary is
Asia Kate Dillon, who acts in Showtime’s Billions, identifies as non-binary and prefers they/them pronouns. And they explained this in March to millions of Ellen’s fans, exposing many of them to the concept for the first time.
Ellen stumbles a lot in this clip. Maybe it was a way of disarming her audience and getting them to open their hearts… or maybe she was just stumbling.
But she stressed that the important thing is to try to be respectful of others, not her own personal preferences about how others should identify.
6. Ellen refuses to let homophobic Kim Burrell on her show
Last year, gospel singer Kim Burrell’s career looked like it was taking off. She had a song on the soundtrack of the successful film Hidden Figures, she had a radio show, there was talk of her hosting a local TV show, and she was going to be on Ellen in January.
Then a video surfaced of her preaching in church about how gay people are perverted and how disgusting it is to “open your mouth and take a man’s penis in your face” or to “shake your face in another woman’s breast.” Instead of repudiating it, Burrell doubled down.
So Ellen canceled Burrell’s appearance.
For those asking, Kim Burrell will not be appearing on my show.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 3, 2017
She explained on her show that she just didn’t want to give Burrell a platform to say “not nice” things. At a time when others in the media are debating the merits of giving Nazis a platform to air their views, it’s good that Ellen says no to hate.
5. A transgender military couple tells their story as Donald Trump tried to kick them out
Donald Trump tweeted in July his intent to purge the military of transgender people, and he has been fighting with courts to make that purge a reality ever since.
In September, Logan and Laila Ireland, who are both in the military and transgender, were on the show and they talked about what it’s like to be attacked by Trump.
4. Ellen explains why Donald Trump won’t be on her show
It’s not normal for a talk show host to say she will not have the current president of the United States on her show, but then there’s nothing normal about Donald Trump being in the White House.
Ellen explained in September that, as a gay woman, she finds Trump “dangerous.” She doesn’t admire him, she knows she’ll never persuade him of anything, and he already has a lot of ways to get his message out. So why should she have him on?
A bonus in this clip is watching her guest Megyn Kelly laugh nervously and then jump at a chance to change the subject.
3. A dad who lost his lesbian daughter to suicide tells Ellen his story
A video of Nathan Mathis protesting Roy Moore went viral earlier this month. Mathis, who tried to make his daughter turn straight in the 1990’s and then lost her in 1995 to suicide, made a sign calling Moore out for saying that gay people are perverts while he spent a good part of his adulthood chasing after teenagers.
Many parents can still learn a lot from Mathis and Ellen helped get his story out.
2. Ellen and other LGBTQ people thank Barack Obama for being president
On January 20, America lost the most LGBTQ-friendly president it has ever had, and the president who has done the most to roll back LGBTQ equality moved into the White House.
I didn’t even want to read the news that day, but Ellen did the right thing and thanked Barack Obama for “changing my life.”
Then LGBT and supportive straight people also thanked him for accomplishing so much.
1. Ellen celebrates the 20th anniversary of coming out
In 1997, Ellen came out on her sitcom Ellen.
It was a watershed moment that put her on the cover of Time. She became a lightning rod for the right’s campaign to push us back into the closet, received hate mail and death threats, and eventually lost her show, but she was also a beacon of hope for people all over the US, especially those living in areas where TV is the closest they could get to an openly gay person.
April 28 was the 20th anniversary of that moment. Who better to remember it than Ellen?
Then Oprah, who played Ellen’s therapist in that episode and interviewed her afterward, came on to remember that episode with Ellen… and the hate mail – complete with n-words and “Go back to Africa” – that she received.
Laura Dern, who played Ellen’s romantic interest Susan, came on and talked about how she lost work because people thought she was a lesbian.
Her cast also appeared on the show
Last, she was surprised by gay and lesbian people who talked about how that episode affected them, how it helped them come out, feel better about themselves, or even save their lives. But first make sure you have tissues left.
Honorable mention: Ellen flirts with Jennifer Lopez
This segment where Ellen shamelessly flirted with J-Lo is your moment of zen.