Popular stand-up comedian and television star Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian in 1997, making her a cultural icon and also engendering tremendous backlash and the cancellation of her popular television show. Coming out, first on The Oprah Winfrey Show and then on her sitcom Ellen, made DeGeneres a pioneering spokeswoman for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. Subsequently, her relationships, her gender identity, and her sexual orientation have provided many women and men with an accessible, friendly, and down-to-earth model for lesbianism. Her public struggles with homophobia and bad relationships have drawn compassion from many viewers and have highlighted the continued marginalization of lesbian and bisexual women in Hollywood and by the media.

DeGeneres was born in Louisiana in 1958, where ...

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