Pop Culture Fix: Remember When Ellen DeGeneres Couldn’t Say Gay Stuff on Daytime TV?

Hello and welcome to the pop culture fix, your #1 source for highbrow kettle corn. 

+ This week Ellen DeGeneres returned to work for the 15th season of her daytime show “Ellen.” In anticipation of this event, she talked to Ryan Seacrest on iHeartRadio about how tough it was so get the show on the air, recalling “This was a show that nobody wanted to buy. They really didn’t think anyone would watch a lesbian during the day and, at the time, no one wanted to see a lesbian at night either. So I was really out of options.” For the first few years, Ellen wasn’t allowed to discuss her personal life, including her relationship with Portia De Rossi, which is a very dark time I remember very well:

“It felt horrible because I had worked so hard to be truthful and to come to terms with my shame of hiding something that I knew was not wrong, but society was telling me was wrong. So I thought, ‘First of all, I lost a lot of the audience because I came out, and then I’m going to now lose the audience that supports me ― that is gay or supportive ― because I’m going to hide it.’ It’s a hard balance. I know this is a business, and I know that I have to appeal to everyone, but I think what’s more appealing than anything is honesty.”

Also, HRC Celebrates 15 Seasons of “Ellen”.

+ One lesbian (Lily Tomlin) leaves, another lesbian (Kate McKinnon) enters: Kate McKinnon Is The New Ms. Frizzle In Trailer For Netflix’s “Magic School Bus Rides Again”

+ Battle of the Sexes, the true story of the legendary 1973 tennis match that pitted LESBIAN Billie Jean King against misogynist Bobby Riggs, comes out September 22nd and damn am I excited for it.

+ These Are The Sexiest TV Shows Of All Time: Includes The L Word, obvs.

+ Taryn Manning isn’t gay you guys, she’s not gay at all, she loves men!

+ New “Star Wars” Novel Hints That “Last Jedi” Character Will Be Bisexual

+ Billie Piper Thinks Rose Would Be In Love With 13th Doctor

+ Star Trek: Facts About Captain Janeway includes “Captain Janeway became a Lesbian Sex Symbol,” which I think we all already knew.

+ Who is Chuen-Yan ‘Yan’? Meet the lesbian Great British Bake Off star taking the internet by storm

+ ‘Mudbound’: How Dee Rees’ Epic Made it to Netflix and the Oscar Race: “Two black women, a Japanese woman, a white woman who is a lesbian. Everybody is an other. I loved the idea that we brought our so-called otherness to the film. That’s what makes it edgy.”

+ Extended Will & Grace Teaser Proves Even More That They Haven’t Missed a Beat

+ 20 Years Later, Ally McBeal’s Queer Legalese Doesn’t Always Go Down Easy: This piece takes another close look at “Boy to the World,” an episode I discussed in my list of trans TV characters last year.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, 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. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3225 articles for us.


  1. Well, seeing the first female doctor with a woman who fells in love with her would be freaking awesome (still didn’t watched the series yet)

  2. i remember the first season of ellen, where she took questions from the audience and someone asked her how could she handle interviewing all those hot guys without getting flustered, and she was like, i guess i just see them as people, it’s my job. which was a fine answer but also really bizarre to watch because 1) who doesn’t know ellen is gay? and 2) why wouldn’t she just be like lololololol.

  3. Finding out Lily Tomlin was openly gay before and during her tenure as Ms. Frizzle changed my life, tbh. My entire childhood I had a lesbian elder in my life every day without even realizing it, ON A CHILDREN’S SHOW.
    I’m willing to bet they didn’t intentionally choose a lesbian to replace a lesbian re:The Magic School Bus, but I’m thrilled nonetheless. SO fucking happy.

    • I think about Billie’s pre-acting ~pop starlet~ career REGULARLY and feel so validated right now.

  4. just opened the Ms.Frizzle trailer on YouTube and saw the comments… What’s happening to the world? :O

  5. Couple of things about Captain Janeway: 1) Mulgrew has admitted that she was unkind toward Ryan, and they have reconciled and appeared at conventions together, and 2) her appearing in Kelsey Grammer’s place in the sketch on the 30th anniversary show was due to Grammer going into rehab at the last minute. And, yeah, Trek in general has not been great about queer representation; before seeing Sulu’s husband in the latest movie, you have to go back to 1995 and Jadzia kissing Lenara in “Rejoined”. DS9, in particular, had a habit of retroactively heterosexualizing queer-coded characters (Jadzia, Kira, Bashir, Garak) by putting them in chemistry-less het relationships (although Jadzia and Worf had their moments).

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