Kate McKinnon Opens Up About Being Gay During Globes Tribute To Ellen

by Christina Marfice

Kate McKinnon’s heartfelt speech captured the impact Ellen DeGeneres has had on Hollywood and the world

There were a lot of buzz-worthy moments at last night’s Golden Globe awards, but one that really stood out this year was when Kate McKinnon presented the Carol Burnett Award to an incredibly deserving recipient: Ellen DeGeneres.

The Carol Burnett Award is one of the most prestigious awards given out at the yearly ceremony. As McKinnon put it, it’s “given to someone who, like its namesake, Carol Burnett, has given us decades of laughter, tears, and a new sense of what’s possible.”

“So,” McKinnon continued, “I would like to read a list of things that tonight’s recipient, Ellen DeGeneres, has personally given me.”

She went on to make plenty of jokes about the clothes she’s received for appearing on Ellen’s show, but also to be heartfelt about what the trailblazing comedian has given to Hollywood — and the world.

McKinnon began, “A roadmap for a way to be funny that is grounded in an expression of joy… A desire to bring everyone together by laughing about the things we have in common.”

But it was when she talked about how Ellen has shaped her personal journey as a gay woman in Hollywood that the speech got really emotional.

“A sense of self,” McKinnon said, adding, “I have to explain that one. In 1997 when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking, ‘Am I gay?’ And I was. And I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23AndMe and discovering that you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV.”

McKinnon continued, “She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth, and she suffered greatly for it. Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change. If I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought I could never be on TV — they don’t let LGBTQ people on TV. And more than that, I would have gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I didn’t even have a right to be here. Thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot at a good life.”

It was really incredible to watch Ellen, seated in the audience next to Carol Burnett, react to McKinnon’s words. It would be tough to find a more deserving recipient for this award, and everyone in the theater and watching at home knew that. Congrats to Ellen DeGeneres on her win.