The Saturday Night Live star, 36, credited the comedian’s groundbreaking decision to come out on her sitcom in the ’90s with encouraging McKinnon to accept her own sexuality.
“In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror thinking, ‘Am I gay?’ And I was. And I still am,” McKinnon began her speech. “But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23andMe and discovering you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV.”
McKinnon also joked about other important things DeGeneres gave her — like two pairs of Stan Smith sneakers, her “best collared shirts” and a sweater featuring a baby goat.
But it was the risk DeGeneres took by coming out that resonated most with the Bombshell costar.
“She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth, and she suffered greatly for it,” McKinnon continued, while fighting back tears. “Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change. And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would’ve thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people on TV.’ And more than that, I would’ve gone on thinking I was an alien and that I maybe didn’t even have a right to be here. So, thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot at a good life.”
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When DeGeneres took the stage to accept her award, she thanked McKinnon for being there and preparing a moving introduction.
“Thank you so much,” said the talk show host, 61. “I love you, I love it.”
The 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony is airing live on NBC from the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 5.