President Obama applauds Ellen’s role in changing hearts and minds

Last week, during a visit to Los Angeles, President Barack Obama stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show and was praised by the comedian and talk show host for all he has done to advance equality and inclusion for LGBT people, saying “I cannot tell you, or thank you enough, for what you’ve done for the gay community.  So, thank you.”

President Obama and EllenObama then turned things around by praising Ellen’s example of owning who she is and empowering others by living an authentic life.  "Changing hearts and minds ... I don't think anybody has been more influential than you are.  I mean that."

President Obama continued by saying "You being willing to claim who you were suddenly empowers other people.  Then suddenly it’s your brother, your uncle, your best friend, your co-workers.  Then, attitudes shift and the laws followed.  But it started with folks like you.   I’m so proud of you."

GLAAD has previously highlighted President Obama’s support of the LGBT community in posts recognizing major policy shifts from previous administrations.  He was the first chief executive to prohibit job bias against transgender government workers and his Department of Health and Human Services reversed a policy that prevented Medicare from financing trans-inclusive healthcare services.

Studies have shown that in the absence of knowing someone who is LGBT, seeing them in TV, film or other forms of popular media is often the next best thing in fostering understanding and changing hearts and minds.  GLAAD knows that images and content matter as much as laws and landmark Supreme Court rulings, and that is why our work is not over. Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, has said:

“Closing the gap to full acceptance of LGBT people will not come from legislation or judicial decisions alone, but from a deeper understanding and empathy from Americans themselves."

GLAAD's recently released Accelerating Acceptance 2016 Harris Poll survey of American's acceptance of LGBT people found that while non-LGBT Americans are growing more comfortable with our diverse community, indicating increased levels of acceptance, there is still an underlying false impression that LGBT people have the same rights as everybody else.  Additionally, far too many, including allies, have no opinion one way or the other about some of the most important issues facing the LGBT community today, including homelessness, mental health, and even violence.  The good news is that there has been progress for acceptance year over year, in no small part because of GLAAD's focus in maintaining our momentum to ensure further progress.

For three decades, GLAAD has been at the forefront of cultural change, creating a world in which everyone can live the life they love and see themselves and their stories reflected back in the media in a fair, accurate and inclusive manner.  For more information on how GLAAD challenges negative stereotypes and promotes inclusion and acceptance through its strategic programs in Entertainment Media, Transgender Media, Spanish-Language Media, as well as U.S. South and Global Media, read Our 2015 Programs Highlights from a Year of Accelerating Acceptance.