Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Yep, I'm an Activist: Betty DeGeneres, Ellen's Mom, Agrees to Serve as Spokeswoman for HRC's Coming-Out Project

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Yep, I'm an Activist: Betty DeGeneres, Ellen's Mom, Agrees to Serve as Spokeswoman for HRC's Coming-Out Project

Article excerpt

Betty DeGeneres, Ellen's mom, agrees to serve as spokeswoman for HRC's coming-out project

When her daughter Ellen, came out this past spring, Betty DeGeneres became the most famous mother of a lesbian since Cher. But activism? "I never dreamed of it," says Ellen's mom. Then came her interview with Diane. Sawyer on ABC-TV's 20/20, in which Ellen and her parents spoke about their struggle to come to terms with Ellen's sexuality. Suddenly, Betty DeGeneres says, she was a role model for people she had never met.

"People would stop me on the street or in stores and would want to share with me about their son or daughter," she says. "Or, if they were gay, their eyes would fill with tears. I knew they had not had the kind of acceptance that every gay person wants to have when they tell their parents."

Through a friend of Ellen's who is active in the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay lobbying group, Betty let it be known that she wanted to help. Now she's spokeswoman for the HRC's National Coming Out Project. "It was just simmering, I guess," Betty says of the one-year appointment.

Her message is simple. "It would be that parents accept the news that their child is gay or lesbian and love them and accept them and embrace them just as they always did, if not more so, because they need it more," she says. …

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