Apparently, Ellen DeGeneres wasn't the only one who received vitriolic backlash after she came out.
Oprah Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter that after appearing in the infamous "puppy episode" of Ellen, in which DeGeneres' character Ellen Morgan revealed her sexual orientation, Winfrey received hateful letters and phone calls.
"It always turns to race. I got all of the, 'N-----, go back to Africa. Who do you think you are?"" Winfrey recalled.
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The violent reaction to the episode surprised Winfrey. "I did it because she asked me to do it and I wanted to support her," Winfrey said of appearing as a therapist in the episode, which aired April 30, 1997. "It didn't occur to me that there would be backlash."Winfrey wasn't the only one on the receiving end of such venom. DeGeneres' decision to come out on national TV, along with a coordinating Time
magazine cover, made her the target of militant religious groups, who staged protests against her and the show. Executives involved in the episode also received death threats serious enough to warrant security at their homes.
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Even after enduring such a backlash, Winfrey continues to support her DeGeneres, 15 years later. "Being able to be free — literally — and to express herself in a way that she can be 100 percent truthful with the audience has allowed them to fall in love with her," Winfrey stated. "Honest-to-God truth: I don't believe she would have been as successful as she has become had she not come out."