Comedian Kate McKinnon became emotional while presenting Ellen DeGeneres with the Carol Burnett Lifetime Achievement award during Sunday’s Golden Globes. In her speech, McKinnon opened up about how DeGeneres helped her accept the fact that she was gay. “In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was in 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 said.


DeGeneres came out on a monumental Time magazine cover in 1997, where she proclaimed, “Yep, I’m Gay.” At the time, Hollywood lacked nearly any gay representation. DeGeneres’s character in the show Ellen came out soon after in “The Puppy Episode.” The episode, where DeGeneres’s character proudly reveals she’s gay in an airport, made the show the first prime-time sitcom to feature a leading gay character.

McKinnon thanked DeGeneres for bravely fighting for Hollywood to accept LGBTQ+ people by coming out, and for DeGeneres’s impact on current LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood. “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,” McKinnon said.

McKinnon broke barriers herself as the first openly gay woman to be cast on Saturday Night Live, where she is known for impersonating Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and DeGeneres herself. McKinnon ended her speech by crediting DeGeneres’s for giving her the confidence and ability to pursue a career in show business as a gay woman. “So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot. A shot at a good life, and thank you also for the sweater with a picture of the baby goat on it,” McKinnon said, closing the speech with a touch of humor.

McKinnon earlier walked the red carpet with sister Emily Lynne.


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