Some Ellen DeGeneres Fans Are Pissed at the Comedian for Hypocritically Selling Out

Getting invited to a professional football game and sitting in the owner’s box next to a former U.S. president seems harmless enough, but that’s not the case for one talk show host. Ellen DeGeneres disappointed a bulk of the LGBTQ community when a photograph of her sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game surfaced.

According to critics, the problem lies in the fact that DeGeneres is gay — she is married to her long-time love Portia de Rossi — Bush is a man who historically has been anti-gay and served his presidency on an anti-LGBTQ platform. Seeing them together really angered a lot of people.

When did Ellen Degeneres come out as gay?

Ellen Degeneres, winner of mulitple awards, poses in the press room during the People's Choice Awards 2017.
Ellen Degeneres | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

DeGeneres came out in 1997. At the time, she had her own self-titled sitcom Ellen. Prior to coming out, when ask if she was gay, DeGeneres would dance around the issue. In a Time magazine article she said was “there is a sharp distinction between her public and private life” and that her private life is just that, private.

Eventually, she — as well as the character she played on Ellen — came out as gay and the rest is history. At the time this was a very brave thing to do because homosexuality was a bigger stigma and not as accepted as it is today.

What is George W. Bush’s history with LGBTQ rights?

Bush was the U.S. president from 2001 to 2009. Many believe that he did not support gay rights and went further to voice opposition to them.

In 2004, when Massachusetts ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, Bush said that it was “deeply troubling” and then said that he favored a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage nationwide. Additionally, when in 2008 the United Nations put forth a declaration condemning acts of homophobia, the Bush administration refused to support it.

How did George W. Bush and Ellen DeGeneres become friends?

At some point in time, Bush and DeGeneres became friends. Jenna Bush, George Bush’s daughter, befriended DeGeneres after appearing on The Ellen Show back in 2007.

Then, in 2017, George W. Bush appeared on the show to promote his book, “Portraits of Courage.” Watching the clip from the show one would conclude that this was the first time DeGeneres had met President Bush.

What did Ellen DeGeneres say to defend herself?

When defending her decision to go to the Dallas Cowboys football game, DeGeneres said: “I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs I have, and I think we have forgotten that is ok, that we’re all different.”

In fact, DeGeneres has been called out before for defending those others think she should not: Who can forget the Kevin Hart controversy? Hart quit the gig he had hosting the Oscars after critics called him out over some anti-gay jokes he made. Of course, there was lots of anger directed toward DeGeneres when she told Hart: “Don’t pay attention to them; they are a small group of people who are very, very loud. We are a huge group of people who love you and want you to host the Oscars.”

Though, it should be noted that Hart himself said he regretted his past jokes. Bush has not openly backtracked on his policy.

Why is it controversial for Ellen DeGeneres to watch a football game with George W. Bush?

When all is said and done, DeGeneres has every right to be friends with whomever she pleases, even if it is a notoriously anti-LGBTQ president. Should that be the case; however, DeGeneres’ status quo as an ally and advocate for the community should be questioned: Her work in the past is undeniable but her current standing can absolutely be different.

LGBTQ issues aside, many fans are also noting the war crimes committed by the Bush administration. Avengers star Mark Ruffalo took to Twitter to note that DeGeneres’ happy-go-lucky-we-should-all-be-friends-and-happy attitude isn’t quite logical or fair.

Though, some celebrities supported Degeneres. Frozen and The Good Place actress Kristen Bell shared a picture of Bush and Degeneres with an emoji-filled caption saying “my queen.” Bell has quietly removed the post. Big Little Lies actress Reese Witherspoon also tweeted her support, only to later delete her tweet as well. Witherspoon’s Instagram comment support remains on DeGeneres’ page.

Ultimately, fans of DeGeneres are spotlighting the inconsistency in her defense.

Constance Grady wrote at Vox: “The niceness that Ellen DeGeneres is celebrating in her friendship with George W. Bush — the niceness that she is extraordinarily skilled at performing — is not about kindness for the powerless. It’s about kindness for the powerful, for the people who helped to set in place the problems the rest of us

Buzzfeed’s Shannon Keating wrote: “Ellen is still protecting herself and her community; the only difference is that, where once her community was other working- and middle-class queer people, it’s now the culturally powerful elite.”