Ellen DeGeneres says Hollywood rejected her after she announced in 1997 during the fourth season of her sitcom Ellen that she is gay. After coming out publicly, Ellen's ratings plummeted and ABC canceled her show.

The 53-year-old DeGeneres told PARADE that coming out gay wrecked her career.

“I didn't work, didn't have any money. No one [in the business] would even talk to me on the phone,” DeGeneres said.

She turned things around by convincing Hollywood that she was “not just gay” but “a funny woman who happens to be gay.”

On coming out gay to her family, DeGeneres said they were understanding, while she was shocked.

“If anything, it was a shock to me,” said DeGeneres, who came out to her family at age 18. “I'd always known that I had crushes on girls, but I also liked boys – though I wasn't drawn to them romantically. For me to get in touch with myself enough to recognize that I was gay, and then not to stay private about it, was a huge step.”