Special Encounters #4: Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi

“Living love to the fullest” is always an act of courage. But let’s admit some some love stories require “a little bit more” courage than others!

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, one of the most popular gay couples that have been together the longest – 13 years – had to stand up to many things, on the top of that, societal taboos. Here goes the story of the “proven” love of the officially married couple from the very beginning.

Bold and successful: Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres still holds her place as one of the most successful and highest-paid TV hosts of the US. Ellen is inarguably an exceptional figure for what she has achieved in the American television industry as a female comedian, in a male-dominated “jungle” majorly criticized for the favoring of males especially by producers. Having outcompeted her male colleagues and built a mass of loyal audience in tens of years is not her only achievement though – Ellen DeGeneres is as a bold and determined woman in her personal life as on TV.

Born in 1958 in Louisiana, Ellen was a happy kid who had figured out and internalized her sexual orientation at a pretty young age. The chatty-as-always Ellen was doing a communication studies major and working at the same time. Having had held various jobs as a hostess, a bartender, a waitress, a saleswoman, etc. was more than a means for money-making to her and became her “observation lab”. Loving to observe people from afar as would every comedian do, Ellen got to enjoy the bizarre, exaggerated and unique reactions of the people all day. At the beginning of 1980s, Ellen wanted to share the stories in her pocket at some point and started stand-up shows at Clyde’s Comedy Club in New Orleans. These shows becoming a success made Ellen’s TV career start to take shape.

DeGeneres’ TV program “Funniest Person in America” where she traveled all across the US seeking the funniest person in the country made her stand out. Since then, her presence on TV significantly expanded when she started to play in sitcoms and hosting late-night talk shows. Climbing the career ladder fast, this charming and funny woman would drop the bombshell in 1997: Ellen would come out as lesbian on the Oprah Winfrey’s live show!

Standing alone against all the bias

Even today coming out on TV takes a lot of courage – imagine what a “crazy act” it would be to do it in 1997. Even taking “the crazy act” further, the same year Ellen would pose for a TIME cover along with the headline saying “Yep, I’m Gay” and gave them an exclusive and heartfelt interview where she revealed her inner self. As much as the half of the American press and show business world – the way she put it – “ran away from her”, the other half appreciated Ellen as a real hero. And since then Ellen DeGeneres successfully hosted many world-famous events including Emmy Awards and Grammy Awards and acted in high-budget commercials. Ellen’s career was on the rise despite the exclusion she faced upon revealing her sexual orientation.

“It was like an arrow shot through the heart”

Now it was the year 2004 when Ellen DeGeneres was enjoying the sweet era of her fame, there was another beauty who attracted the admiration of many people: Portia de Rossi. Having had gained instant worldwide popularity with Ally McBeal series, the Australian American actress became a chased-after figure for the tabloid press due to her charm and beauty. A fan of Ellen as every gay woman in the US was, Portia never revealed she was a lesbian for she worried it would ruin her career. And when destiny brought these two together at an awards night they already had had long-lasting relationships!

Carried away with the immediate attraction when they saw each other, Ellen and Portia knew the very moment that “they were meant to be together” and had to end their ongoing relationships. Portia actually put that moment with these words: “It was definitely love at first sight. I saw her from the back and the moment she turned her face in my direction it felt as if an arrow shot through my heart. That very moment I knew Ellen was the one.”

They didn’t waste a minute to end their relationships and moved in together at a secluded neighborhood in Los Angeles. Being both very popular and gay women at the same time, the modest life they lived didn’t spare them from having had to live with the paparazzi.

Since 2008…

After the 3 years of romance and standing together against the hardship of being in the public eye, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi made a life-changing decision. Thanks to the California Supreme Court that had overturned a state law banning same-sex marriage, the couple got officially married in 2008 in a fairy tale wedding. Now “Portia Lee James DeGeneres”,  this was not only a wedding to Portia but also the greatest way to shout out to the world who she is and what she feels.

Currently an activist for one of the most significant animal rights organizations of the world, PETA, and a number of LGBTI organizations, Ellen DeGeneres was ranked 46th on the Forbes’ The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list in 2014. Her net worth nearing $300 million, DeGeneres today is mentioned as one of the most influential and wealthy people of the world. However, when asked about the most valuable thing she has in life, her answer has always been her wife Portia.