×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ellen DeGeneres Influenced Gay Rights Views More Than Any Other Celebrity (Study)

Ellen DeGeneres did more to influence Americans’ attitudes about gay rights than any other celebrity or public figure, a new poll by Variety and branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev found.

The daytime host wasn’t the only person who played a key role in shaping hearts and minds. President Barack Obama, who endorsed same-sex marriage during his 2012 re-election bid after initially opposing it, was the second most cited figure, followed by openly gay “Glee” star Jane Lynch and openly gay comedian Rosie O’Donnell. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the fifth most influential voice on gay rights, the study found. Like Obama, Clinton initially opposed gay marriage before changing her views two years ago.

The results were calculated from a nationwide survey of 2,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 65. Polling was based on a combination of online studies and one-on-one interviews. The study was conducted as part of Variety‘s recent issue examining Hollywood’s role in the gay rights fight and its impact on the Supreme Court’s decision last week legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

DeGeneres first made waves in 1997 when she came out as gay on the cover of Time and on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Art imitated life, as DeGeneres’ character on her ABC sitcom “Ellen” also came out of the closet. There was a backlash, however. “Ellen” was cancelled due to falling ratings in 1998 and the comedian didn’t regain her professional stride until her talk show launched in 2003.

DeGeneres declined to be interviewed for the special Variety issue, but in a 2014 People piece she admitted she was shocked by the response.

“I thought everyone knew me and I didn’t think that one little adjective was going to define me,” she said, adding, “Now I look at it as a movie that I saw that someone went through, and I only experience the amazing life that I have right now.”

Respondents also cited a number of television shows with gay or lesbian characters as being a critical factor in altering their views. DeGeneres’ daytime show was the most frequently cited, followed by “Modern Family” and “The Fosters.” “Modern Family” features a gay couple, played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, who is raising an adopted daughter. “The Fosters” centers on an interracial lesbian couple, played by Teri Polo and Sherri Saum, who are bringing up a mix of biological and adopted children.

Gay performers, advocates and shows with homosexual characters were only one factor in shifting attitudes, the study found. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed cited gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters as the key influence in their beliefs, while a leading 84% referenced knowing someone who is out of the closet. Seventy-eight percent referenced prominent gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender figures as being a major influence, while 80% cited the role that straight supporters of gay rights have had in making them more comfortable.

More TV

  • The Rook

    'The Rook,' Shondaland, Ted Sarandos Among Programming for SeriesFest 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    The fifth edition of SeriesFest will deliver panels and programming designed to celebrate individual talent as well as companies who are “taking creative risks and leveraging advances in technology to reimagine storytelling.” On the linup is Starz’s upcoming supernatural thriller “The Rook,” a panel with the creatives behind Shondaland, a look at LGBTQ representation on [...]

  • BBC Orders Spoof Talk Show Fronted

    Spoof Talk Show Fronted by an Animated Vladimir Putin Coming to the BBC

    The BBC will air a spoof talk-show fronted by an animated Vladimir Putin. The U.K. pubcaster has ordered two pilot episodes of “Tonight With Vladimir Putin,” a semi-scripted talk show hosted by a CGI representation of the Russian leader. The first guest will be Alistair Campbell, a former high-ranking political spin doctor in the U.K. [...]

  • Upcoming Fantasy Shows Like 'Game of

    10 Upcoming Shows to Watch if You're Mourning 'Game of Thrones'

    Millions of people’s Sunday night routines are ruined now that “Game of Thrones” is over, and there are holes in their hearts as big as the hole in The Wall that are aching for a new fantasy series to fill them. Several prequel series are on their way, but as there’s no word on just [...]

  • Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi

    'Game of Thrones' Composer Ramin Djawadi: 'I'm Still in Denial'

    Since the first season, Ramin Djawadi has composed the music for “Game of Thrones” and created the epic tunes, including the iconic theme song, heard over the series’ most memorable moments. With the series finished, he talked with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1 about his experience on the show and an upcoming 20-city [...]

  • TUPAC SHAKUR black panther collection

    ‘Defiant Ones’ Director to Helm Docuseries on Tupac, Who Assaulted Him in 1993

    Director Allen Hughes, who helmed the award-winning HBO documentary “The Defiant Ones,” has closed a deal with Tupac Shakur’s estate for a five-part docuseries for which he will have full access to all of the late rapper’s released and unreleased recordings, writings and poetry, according to an announcement from his rep. The announcement says the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content