Known Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres Addresses JC Penney Controversy Like A Boss

As you’re probably aware and perhaps have read about here, there has been quite a skerfuffle brewing regarding JCPenney’s decision to hire Known Homosexual Ellen DeGeneres to be their “spokesperson,” because DUH Ellen is WAY cooler than JCPenney, she should spokesperson Sears instead. Just kidding! It’s because she’s gay and some people can’t handle it.

Conservative group The Million Moms, an army put together by traditional valuespeople to protect themselves if The Million Lesbians ever attack, wanted JCPenney to drop Ellen as a spokesperson.

Unfortunately, JC Penney is not a bigoted idiot and clearly has some market research revealing that more people are cool with homosexuality than with douchebaggery. Therefore, they stood their ground.

Today on her fabulously popular television show, Ellen addressed the issue and spoke frankly about Prop 8, being gay, and all that smacktalk on Million Moms’ facebook page. It was a shining moment for women and a sparkling glittery moment for all of queer women pride.

Sidenote: Anyone intensely interested in marketing and business stuff, like me, would be interested to know that JCPenney is hoping Ellen will rehabilitate their “stodgy” image, as their sales have been suffering lately. They’re gonna be overhauling the price structure, re-designing the logo and turning its stores into smaller speciality stores that will showcase brands “like Martha Stewart.”

Ellen does seem like a good pick — she’s very conservative and eminently like-able in terms of her personality — she’s careful never to offend people, and she makes herself very difficult to dislike. Therefore people feel safe with her, but because she rocks this very distinct hipster-prep-boi-style, is a lesbian and is married to Portia De Rossi, she’s also seen as edgy or “cool.”

much like these creatures

Here’s the cute part: Ellen DeGeneres worked at JCPenneys in Louisiana in the 1970s when she was a teenager! Here’s what she has to say about the deal:

“I’m excited to tell everybody about this partnership. I’m going to talk about J.C. Penney on my show. I’m going to talk about it to the people in line behind me at Starbucks. The only place I won’t talk about it is at the movies because that’s rude. That’s when I’m going to text about it…these guys are thinking outside the box. They’re not stuffy, uptight people. They’re kind of down-to-earth guys that I can relate to.”

What’s interesting actually is that as a kid, most of our clothes were hand-me-downs or used clothes, but when we got new clothes it was ALWAYS at JCPenney. They also had a fantastic catalog which I’d leaf through and pick hypothetical gifts for my friends and family for fun, I guess. From BusinessWeek:

Penney is banking on DeGeneres’ down-to-earth humor and big daytime TV following to bring customers in stores to see the changes it is making — and explain them.

“I think Ellen is someone we all trust. She’s loveable, likeable, honest and funny, but at her soul, we trust her,” Johnson told The Associated Press.

DeGeneres, who is also a spokesperson for Cover Girl, will appear in five commercials, whose details are mostly under wraps. But one ad spotlights DeGeneres, usually dressed in pants, wearing a dress.


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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2855 articles for us.

62 Comments

  1. Ellen is the best ever at essentially saying “fuck you” to her haters while still being so insanely likable. She is just magical.

  2. You guys JCPenny’s is now like my new favorite store. Firstly because I found the cutest blazer there the other day and now because of these Ellen shenanigans.

  3. Grannie Lance

    I LOVE Ellen! I LOVE JC Pennys! Therefore I have 2 LOVES in my life. Some people NEVER FIND LOVE AT ALL! So—why should I complain? LOVE LOVE LOVE! It makes the world go round!

  4. Turkish

    You know you are truly a loathsome homophobe when Bill O’Reilly is calling you out and defending Ellen. Did anybody see that? I was amazed.

      • Wow. I am shocked to see Bill O’Reilly actually saying something I agree with.

      • I couldn’t watch much of it because I have a negative Pavlovian response to Bill O’Reilly’s voice, but… omg.

        • I had the same problem, and the other lady’s arguement was making my skin crawl, but it was nice to see her defended by someone I can’t stand. Although now it will be creepy knowing I saw something from Fox news I agreed with…

      • Ande

        I guess capitalism trumps homophobia? Hmmmmm.

      • Man that was weird to watch… and I’m happy to see him support Ellen. But I’m not sure I really agree with his reasoning. He’s basically saying that people shouldn’t organize boycotts of companies they don’t like because businesses can do whatever they want and aren’t accountable to the public, right? But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using your collective power as citizens and consumers to get a company to change something you think is wrong. If JCPenny had hired some giant homophobe as their spokesperson, I would have been in full support of The Million Queers vs. JCPenny.

        • Tierney

          I don’t think he had a problem with boycotting. It seemed to me that he didn’t agree with their demand for JCPenny to fire Ellen. OMM isn’t organizing a boycott, they are telling people to contact JCP and have Ellen fired.

          Also my head was kind of exploding at the fact that watching O’Reilly didn’t make me want to strangle him through my monitor. Usually I can only see him speak through the filter of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show.

        • I thought he didn’t mind boycotts, because he said that people were entitled to choose not to shop at a store, if that was what they wanted to do.

          It seemed to me (and I might be reading him completely wrong here) that he was saying that it’s wrong to fire someone before they have even done anything wrong, just for being who they are or the beliefs they hold.

          Like, if a group of people believed that most Christians were contagiously unhygienic, and then someone employed a bishop (who had no record of anything to do with lack of hygiene) to be spokesperson for their store. Then the group demanded that the bishop be fired before he even started work, on the grounds that the store shouldn’t employ someone so dirty and unhygienic, because kids would get the wrong message.

          Even if the group’s beliefs were right, he would have done nothing to indicate that he was actually one of the contagiously unhygienic christians. Nor is being contagiously unhygienic necessarily a reason to demand the firing of a person who is not coming into personal contact with customers’ kids.

          It would be different if, as the store’s spokesperson, he started saying things like: ‘Kids, don’t bother to brush your teeth or wash your hands after going to the bathroom, because it really doesn’t matter.’ Then he would have done something that might justify an outcry.

          Oh, I don’t know if I’m actually making sense here at all, so I’d better quit now. ;)

  5. roxy2

    LESBIAN?! I thought she was LEBANESE! oh hell no.

  6. BMW

    Main thought: I wish *my* title was Known Homosexual.

  7. Lisa

    No Hulu for us overseas Ellen lovers! Poop! : (

  8. Crisis! Technology won’t allow me to stream hulu, since I’m not in the U.S.
    But, I appreciate this article anyways. I love Ellen.
    And Riese — good use of the word “skerfuffle”. (Assuming it is actually a word… but, I mean, even if it’s not…)

  9. Q: Is there anyone more awesome than Ellen?
    A: No.

    Q: Do The Million Moms need to learn how to count?
    A: Yes.

  10. anonymous

    I always liked JC Penney; it’s usually where I seem to end up shopping for clothes. After seeing this, JC Penney is my official favorite clothes store. It has gone from good to awesome and accepting, and I’m glad I shop there.

  11. Can The Million Lesbians please be a thing? Or at least The Hundred Homosexuals? The Quantified Queers? Alliteration is failing me.

  12. I LOVE ELLEN. I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH THIS ENTIRE SUBJECT MATTERS TO ME IN ANY MEASURE OF ELOQUENCE BECAUSE I’M TOO DISTRACTED BY MY LOVE FOR ELLEN.

    Love.

    • I LOVE ELLEN AS WELL, AND I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH THIS MATTERS IN LOWERCASE LETTERS, BECAUSE I GUESS I’M A LESBIAN, AND LESBIANS LOVE CAPS. I think. That’s the stereotype, right?

      Anyway, YES, ELLEN LOVE IS DISTRACTING

  13. i’ve been a fan of the i heart ronson line at Jc penny’s for a few years. now i have an excuse to buy more sweaters and blouses.

    (i’ll admit it – at first i though sam ronson was branching into clothing because i didn’t know the ronson’s were a family with a sibling in every industry)

  14. Dana

    She is so classy.

    And I want to keep reminding new gays to watch her 1997 sitcom coming out episodes – they’re history and they’re salient reminders of how far we’ve come.

    • Aly

      I watched that a few days ago, it was mind blowing. She did that in the year I was born….so much has changed.

  15. Will they have an Ellen clothing line? I’d buy all of it, seeing as I already have a fair amount of Ellen-like attire for every occasion… but I need MORE.

  16. Reading these comments is like a huge boost to my ego. I just sort of tune out the Degeneres.

  17. I only shop at Penneys. I have a credit card there..AND I ALSO GOT THE CUTEST BLAZER THERE! Score for ellen and score for me for not having to change my shopping habits!

    • Seriously. They have the cutest blazers. And Sephora, and MNG by Mango. I want to shop there 2x as much now to make up for the people who will boycott.

  18. Awww man.. stupid video only works in the US. Anyways… I love Ellen, and I am glad those “moms” arene’t in my life. It makes me sad that stuff like this is even up for discussion in America in 2012. Where I come from you don’t really notice the gays at all, cuz we are just like everyone else. We’re just people living our lives, not having to fight for our rights.

    • Where are you from? I’m looking for somewhere new to move. Semi-serious.

  19. Random heterosexual male that somehow wound up on this website

    Bill O Reilly has been slowly becoming less insane over time. That or the rightists have become so insane that, in comparison, he seems more normal now. But he’s not Rick Santorum or John Boehner nutty.

    Either way, I’m gonna go buy a pair of Arizona jeans or something. I’m tired of seeing homosexuals, atheists, muslims, and whoever else out being told that they should just live inside whatever closet it is they live in…and if some random corporation dares hire one of them, they need boycotted.

  20. My mom is an adorable baby kitten, but she can’t really cope with the fact that I’m gay. She doesn’t flip out or anything, she just doesn’t respond to it. When I talk about my girlfriend, generally, there’s a “mmhmmm” in response. She’s making beautiful progress, but it’s sloooooooow going.

    {there’s a point, I swear}

    My mom works part-time at JC Penney. Out to dinner with me, my sister, and my (also gay) brother, she told us about the Ellen thing. She was SO PROUD that JC Penney stood behind Ellen. It was like 8 levels of brilliant!

    Yay!

    • Gem

      “My mom is an adorable baby kitten”
      I want to be in your family!

      • SC

        yeah, seriously. the only way this could be better would be if your mom was a baby kitten who was gay married to a baby unicorn. i’m pretty sure that’s the ideal set of parents right there.

    • For the first half of your post I thought it was your mom’s kitten who couldn’t cope with you being gay. I just thought I’d throw that out there because the image was pretty great.

  21. Jessica Marie

    I don’t even like JC Penny (more of a Plato’s Closet kinda girl) and I’m ready to head over and drop $40 on a pair of jeans just because.

    —-({*})—-
    A warm cup of Vulva Love
    http://www.VulvaLoveLovely.com

  22. Delhi

    Hey fellow straddlers, can we please not be so single-mindedly focused on LGBTQ issues that we are blinded to other really important violations of human rights? Unlike most who commented on this story, the fact that Ellen DeGeneres is getting paid oodles of money to promote cheap clothing doesn’t thrill me or make me want to throw up my fist screaming “lesbian solidarity forever!” It doesn’t make me want to run out to the nearest JC Penny’s and start buying their cheap products with glee either. After all is said and done, JC Penny is still a horrible company that received a D- from Green America’s Retail Scorecard for it’s sale of sweatshop labor clothing. Their brand of department store is no longer popular, so naturally, they hired a spokesperson who is big with the 20-50 year old women crowd (hey, Ellen) and hope it’ll revive their brand. I guarantee you, the decision to keep her on was a financial calculation not a moral calculation…and the only thing that speaks to are principles of capitalism & our consumer culture, not the status of LGBTQ individuals.

    • I like this perspective. A lot.

      It’s nice to see happy smiling glbtiq faces on tv, but I personally would prefer that my inclusion not be built on the exploitation of other human beings.

      Labour conditions in the clothing industry are a feminist issue, too, since the majority of garment workers are women.

      • Also, I imagine that most sweatshop workers are people of colour.

        In Australia, most outworkers (people who produce garments from home and get paid a pittance for their labour, like $1 per shirt) are immigrant women from non-white backgrounds.

    • What Delhi said ^. The JC Penney marketing execs are high fiving each other round the boardroom with the free publicity this story just generated.

  23. Well… I love JCPenney. I’ve shopped there almost all my life, almost exclusively these past 3 years actually. I feel comfortable shopping there ’cause people don’t follow you around pretending to care about helping you find stuff or annoy you at the dressing rooms with limits of how much pieces you can try on at a time. Sometimes I’m just so tired of walking that I go to JCPenney and sit in a dressing room… it’s so peaceful LOL!!

    Everyone should go check out their I <3 Ronson collection…. it's so amazingly cute and gay… lol! i love it! The also have MANGO too, which is equally awesome and… well… they have pretty amazing stuff in sizes above 9… O.o

    Point is, I LOVE IT, and I'll love it more now that Ellen is the "spokesperson"!!

  24. So with moms tax return. . . guess Im going to Penny’s :) Way to go for Ellen, I lover her more everyday :P <3

  25. melbourne singing lessons

    I went to school with a set of twins, boy and girl, she was more boy and ended up being lesbian, and he was more “metrosexual” to put it nicely and he ended up being gay. I personally believe we are born with a certain amount of hormones and estrogen, sometimes it’s more than the female regs. and sometimes it’s more than male regs., that to me is why and how sexuality is not chosen, it’s what we are born with and then desire. I can be wrong, but with looking back on boys and girls I went to school with and in life it all turned out true. Such is nature.

  26. Ellen should just be considered a her own element…she’s a product of beautiful change.

  27. Video Brochures

    Cuz that’s what the theistic Americans want right?How is that “teach the controversy”? What about other religions, like Buddhism, or Shintoism, or Hinduism or Muslim? They each have their own creationist views, are we going to teach all of them?

  28. commercial carpet

    I can only seem to find the old mailing address but I need the new one for the warner bros studios.

  29. Laid off for his plan

    I was a loyal employee for JCPenney for over 5 years. I did my job well and got a good performance rating every year. I even stayed on when they stopped giving raises entirely. Then Ron Johnson was announced to take over and we all felt pretty good. The day after my birthday I was laid off. Hundreds of others were soon out of jobs as well. It took me over six months to find a new job because Ron saturated the job pool with people like me. Don’t give him your money. Shop Macy’s or Kohl’s.

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