The 2020 Golden Globes ceremony took place on January 5. As I previously announced, Ellen DeGeneres was to receive the Carol Burnett Award for lifetime achievement in television.
The Carol Burnett Award is a new award that is “presented annually to an honoree who has made outstanding contributions to television on or off the screen.”
But we won’t just remember the award received by Ellen DeGeneres, because another lesbian left her mark on the ceremony.
Openly gay comedian Kate McKinnon, who was in charge of presenting the award to Ellen DeGeneres that night, gave a moving speech in which she spoke about the importance of LGBTQ portrayal on television for the lesbian teenager she was.
Kate McKinnon has always been clear about her sexual orientation. She never made it a secret that she was a lesbian. She joked about it with Jerry Seinfeld on “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” or played lesbian characters in “Saturday Night Live” skits.
As she said herself, she’s one of those women that Ellen DeGeneres inspired and comforted.
Here is Kate McKinnon’s entire moving speech:
“The Carol Burnett Award is given to someone who likes its namesake, Carol Burnett, has given us decades of laughter, tears and a new sense of what’s possible. So I would like to read a list of things that tonight’s recipient, Ellen DeGeneres, has personally given me. And some of these are spiritual and some of them are pieces of clothing I got to keep after doing impressions of her on her talk show: a road map for a way to be funny that is grounded in an expression of joy; two pairs of Stan Smith sneakers (that’s one of the clothes ones); a desire to bring everyone together by laughing about the things we have in common; my best-collared shirts; a sense of self.
“I have to explain that one more: In 1997 when Ellen’s sitcom was in 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, and I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23andMe and discovering that you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV.
“She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth and she suffered greatly for it. Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change. And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought, “I could never be on TV. They don’t let L.G.B.T. people on TV.” And more than that, I would have gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn’t even have a right to be here. So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot. A shot at a good life, and thank you also for the sweater with a picture of the baby goat on it.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 42 percent of young LGBTQ+ Americans still say they live in a community that does not accept LGBTQ+ people. McKinnon, like DeGeneres, is a role model to us all. Her presence on television contributes to the visibility and acceptance of our LGBTQ+ community.
Photos by Paul Drinkwater, NBC