Last night, Ellen DeGeneres made her debut as a judge on American Idol and ratings soared. Also this week, her wife Portia de Rossi announced plans for her tell-all memoir and shared her feelings on gay marriage, eating disorders and being out in Hollywood as the cover girl of The Advocate. A lesbian power couple? You bet. The ideal lesbian poster women? More than ever.
Portia and Ellen are hugely influential gay women that are very important to lesbian visibility. Prior to meeting Portia, Ellen was very private and, outside of coming out in the '90s, remained relatively quiet on the subject of gay rights or sexuality in general. After she and Portia announced their nuptial plans, and allowed People magazine to capture the event, they have become outspoken on the topic of LGBT rights and we are only better off for it.
From Ellen using her own show as a platform for discourse, to discussing gay rights with Oprah and Katie Couric, to Portia schooling Elizabeth Hasselbeck on the importance of gay marriage becoming legal on The View, it's almost impossible to ignore the fact that these successful, happy women are lesbians and proud of it. And I couldn't be a happier, prouder lesbian because of it.
"Ever since Ellen and I got together, I feel like I've been given an opportunity to actually—God, this sounds corny…" She rolls her eyes at herself, fidgets, and then forges ahead. "Well, I feel like my life can actually kind of stand for something. And I don't mean that in a self-aggrandizing way, like, 'Look at me, I can make a difference.' But I feel like, maybe I get why I'm here."
So why now? Is it better late than never for women who both admit to have remained quiet on the subject of their sexualities in their past? Definitely — there's not a statute of limitations on civil rights. If anything, I hope other closeted or moderately closeted public people will follow suit. Has it had a negative affect on Portia or Ellen? Not likely — at least not in the long run. Now's the time, if there ever was one. Come out, come out wherever you are.