Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon delivered an emotional speech about LGBT+ representation on television at the Golden Globes, thanking Ellen DeGeneres for making it “less scary” to be gay when she was younger.
During Sunday’s evening’s award ceremony, McKinnon presented DeGeneres with the Carol Burnett Award for Achievement in Television, an accolade bestowed for “outstanding contributions to television on or off the screen”.
While introducing the talk show host, McKinnon told the audience at The Beverly Hilton how “scary” it was to realise she was gay as a teenager, an understanding she acquired while watching DeGeneres on the 1990s Ellen sitcom.
“In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror thinking, ‘Am I gay?’ And I was. And I still am,” she said.
“But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23andMe and discovering you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV.”
McKinnon tearfully praised DeGeneres for risking “her entire life and her entire career to tell the truth”, something she “suffered greatly for” when the 61-year-old publicly came out in April 1997.
“Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change,” the SNL regular continued.
“And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would’ve thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people on TV.”
McKinnon stated that she would have continued thinking she “was an alien” and that she “maybe didn’t even have a right to be here” had she not watched DeGeneres on television in her youth.
“So, thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot at a good life,” the 36-year-old concluded.
Several people expressed their admiration for McKinnon’s emotive speech and for the positive message she spread with her poignant words.
“Kate McKinnon opening up before millions and appearing vulnerable about the impact Ellen had on her was something,” one person tweeted.
“Sending such a great message to be proud of who you are and embrace it.”
“The Kate McKinnon tribute to Ellen was really touching,” someone else commented.
“Sometimes helping someone else feel a little safer, a little better about their lives is everything.”
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