Kate McKinnon is known for making audiences howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live. But at Sunday’s Golden Globes, she brought the evening’s first tears with a candid, touching introduction of Carol Burnett Award winner Ellen DeGeneres.
After joking that DeGeneres had given her a bunch of items of clothing over the years, the SNL star — who plays DeGeneres on the sketch show — told everyone in the Beverly Hilton ballroom that the honoree gave her a “sense of self,” then went on to explain.
“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 and thinking, ‘Am I…gay?’ And I was,” McKinnon said, getting laughs. “And I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23 and Me and discovering that you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV.”
McKinnon recalled how DeGeneres’ coming out — on her eponymous sitcom — caused the stand-up comedian to “suffer greatly.” And DeGeneres is now a highly successful talk show host because “attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change.”
She continued: “And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people be on TV.’ And more than that, I would have gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe even didn’t have a right to be here. So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot at a good life.”
Press PLAY on the video above to watch McKinnon’s speech in full, then hit the comments with your thoughts!