The 1997 episode, which followed DeGeneres’s own coming out on the cover of Time magazine, helped pave the way for LGBTQ characters on mainstream TV. But even more importantly, it was an indelible moment for queer audiences everywhere, inspiring many viewers who had yet to come to terms with their sexuality to open up to their friends and family members.
On Friday’s episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” fans recalled how “The Puppy Episode” impacted them in an emotional video. “I knew, in a way, that I was watching history,” said one, “but I didn’t know how much that was going to impact my own life.” Added another, “It was this huge feeling of relief. That was the very first time in my life that I didn’t feel alone.”
Others pointed to how risky the move in the years before shows like “Will & Grace” and “Modern Family” introduced more LGBTQ characters into the cultural lexicon. “It was like watching the Super Bowl. This was our Hail Mary as, I think, a gay community,” one fan noted. Another thanked DeGeneres for putting her career on the line to “not open doors, but to kick down doors and swing them flying open.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
For the latest in LGBTQ entertainment, check out the Queer Voices newsletter.