Ellen DeGeneres Discusses The Moment When She Decided To Come Out

We all know Ellen DeGeneres as a big TV personality who is very open about her sexuality — but she wasn't always that way.

There was a point when she was terrified to come out of the closet. As she revealed in an episode of Oprah's Master Class on OWN on Sunday, she said she never imagined coming out at all — especially not on a show. But the star, who came out publicly in 1997, made history when her character on her sitcom Ellen also came out.

"I did it in spite of the fact that I was scared to death."

Ellen said she was inspired by a "hippy course" (aka meditation retreat) she took at California’s Esalen Institute called Inner Dialogue of Your Subconscious Mind: "It was scary and crazy and what came out of listening to what I had been saying to myself is, ‘Would I still be famous? Would they still love me if they knew I was gay?’" she says in the clip.

"And my fear was, no, they wouldn’t. Then it made me feel shame that I was hiding something ... I just didn’t want to pretend to be somebody else anymore so that people would like me.”

She says that when she rehearsed the famous coming-out scene, she cried every time her character said "I am gay."

"I am not fearless," she explains. "I didn't do it because I am fearless. I did it in spite of the fact that I was scared to death."

You can watch the entire clip below:

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