In the 1990s there were television shows, stories, and characters that were going to stay with you for a lifetime. One of these shows was ABC sitcom Ellen, which aired from 1994 to 1998.

This star of the show was the main character, Ellen Morgan played by real-life comedienne Ellen Degeneres. Throughout my time of tuning into Ellen it never occurred to me that I should know the sexual orientation of the woman who was cracking me up every week simply because, to me, it didn’t matter. What mattered to me was that I would get my weekly dose of Ellen and all would be right with the world.

But little did we know that the world was about to change. Change because of Ellen Degeneres’ unparalleled bravery. Twenty years ago she would speak her own truth by revealing that she was gay. In the episode entitled Puppy, so as to protect its content the admission was made. In an unforgettable scene with talk show legend and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey Ellen revealed that she was gay.

The media frenzy that followed the reveal dogged Ellen Degeneres every move and some, if not most, held negativity at its core. What’s more ABC buckled under the backlash for the Puppy episode and subsequently cancelled the sitcom in 1998 after five seasons on the air.

It’s been well documented that after the cancellation of the sitcom the combative manner in which the media and tabloids covered Ellen led to complete career devastation. “I didn’t work for three years,” she has said. “I was so angry. I thought I earned this. I didn’t get this because I was beautiful; I didn’t get this because I had connections in the business. I really worked my way up to a show, a sitcom that was mine that was successful, that was on for five years. I did what was right: I came out, which was good for me and ultimately it was the only thing I could do. And then I got punished for it.”

To Be Continued in Part Two.