Part 1: Our Hall of Fame

Any celebration of the The Advocate's founding in 1967 must honor the heroes for LGBT rights that we've covered for 45 years. With one honoree named per year, the list will be announced in parts and culminate in an event in Los Angeles this month.




With the iconic headline, “Yep, I’m Gay,” and her smiling face on the cover of Time magazine on April 14, 1997, comedian and actress Ellen DeGeneres forever changed television — and solidified herself as a target for the “haters,” as she’s called them.

Even this year, the religious right tried and failed to get DeGeneres fired from a job as spokeswoman for JCPenney just because she’s a lesbian. But those forces were much stronger during the ’90s. The star once told The Advocate it seemed she had “lost everything” after her ABC show was canceled, her relationship failed, and her follow-up sitcom never picked up steam.

When DeGeneres rose from all of that with her role in Finding Nemo, her hugely successful daytime talk show, her marriage to actress Portia de Rossi, and as host of a big event in American culture, the Academy Awards, it was more than a comeback. Important through all of it was how much it mattered that no one seemed to care anymore what the headline on Time magazine said in 1997.
—Lucas Grindley