Portia De Rossi Says Ellen DeGeneres Helped Her Realize Being Gay Was OK

After a year defined by a pandemic and professional struggles, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi say their relationship is stronger than ever.

The two women grace one of three different covers of People magazine’s first-ever Love Issue, honoring famous couples who’ve stayed together despite the odds, this week. In the accompanying interview, de Rossi explained how the pair met backstage at a 2001 concert and, though she thought DeGeneres was “the coolest, most fascinating, beautiful, funniest person I’ve ever met,” she opted against pursuing a romance as she had yet to come to terms with her true self. 

“I just knew that being with her would be a bit of a thing for me, so we didn’t get together after that for about three years,” the actor, whose credits include “Arrested Development” and “Nip/Tuck,” explained. 

Things changed, however, when they reconnected at an event in 2004. The women began dating shortly thereafter and made their first public appearance together at a Golden Globes after-party that same year. Four years later, they tied the knot in Los Angeles. 

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“I just got to a point where I chose love over anything else. This was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling,” de Rossi said. “And Ellen really did help me through it just by being there and making me feel more comfortable about who I am — like there was nothing wrong with being gay. I think that’s the first time in my life I felt that was true.”

As is the case for many couples, however, 2020 brought its share of unexpected challenges. DeGeneres has been making visible efforts to rebuild her image since launching Season 18 of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in September of last year. 

Months earlier, the daytime talk show was at the epicenter of controversy after BuzzFeed published two lengthy articles in current and former “Ellen” staffers alleged they’d been subjected to behind-the-scenes intimidation, racism and sexual misconduct. 

And in December, DeGeneres tested positive for COVID-19 a little more than two months after resuming in-studio tapings of the show. Speaking to People this week, she credited De Rossi with having been a source of strength amid a turbulent year. 

“I couldn’t have gone through everything I went through without her,” DeGeneres said. “It was a horrible time in my life, and she was a rock. She kept me going and tried to help me put things in perspective.”

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