"Our time was a beautiful part of my life and one that I wear with honor," the actress, 51, said her cover interview with Mr. Warburton magazine for the September issue.
"I was a part of a revolution that created social change, and I could not have done that without falling in love with her," Heche said, recalling the mistreatment she and DeGeneres received in the 1990s for being open about their same-sex relationship. For example, Heche says she was escorted out of her own premiere for the 1997 disaster flick Volcano because she brought DeGeneres, who had just come out as gay in her sitcom Ellen.
"The difference between what would happen today and what happened then is that I would not have been ushered out of my own premiere and fired from a multi-million dollar picture deal with Fox for taking a girl as my date," Heche said.
Video: Anne Heche says she was fired for refusing advances from Weinstein
The couple split in 2000. Heche said she is "proud to have been part of a revolution that helped move equality forward."
"But there is still work to do," she acknowledged.
"I’ve paved this way for myself, and my honesty had every single thing to do with it," the actress continued. "I think every interaction we have should begin with whether or not we can look at and talk to other human beings with 100 percent respect. My answer will always be ‘yes.’ We have to agree that it’s a possibility and that we all deserve it."
Heche's trailblazing when it comes to visibility for the LGBTQ community is a major reason why Mr. Warburton wanted her on the September cover.
"I asked Anne to be on my cover because during hardship we look back and see what is important and who has moved the needle in history," Warburton said. "Anne Heche is an unsung hero to the LGBTQ community. Ellen gets all the credit, but Anne was really the first movie star to come out publicly and faced just as much backlash. I started this magazine to feature these kinds of stories."
Of the recent accusations of toxicity on DeGeneres' show, Heche said, "I haven’t spoken to Ellen in years. I’d listen to the people who have."
"If I’m standing someplace and I don’t like what’s going on there and I stay there, it’s my fault. So what are the actions that got me there and why can’t I get out of it easily if that’s not something that I want to be engaged in?" she said. "Ellen is standing where she walks, and that is hers to continue that journey."