Obama ‘chokes up’ awarding Ellen the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Known for her light-hearted approach to life, it’s not often we see Ellen DeGeneres cry.

But the star was left teary eyed in the White House yesterday as she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

The 58-year-old comedian was one of 21 people – which included Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Michael Jordan and Bruce Springsteen – who were granted the prestigious award in acknowledgement of their contributions to American society.

Praising the host’s decision to publicly reveal her sexuality despite the effect it could have had on her career, the President said: “It’s easy to forget now…just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago.”

He acknowledged the effect that move had on the LGBT community and the general public as it forced people to “challenge [their] assumptions and remind [them they] have more in common than [they] realise”.

“What an incredible burden that was to bare,” he said.  “To risk your career like that.  People don’t do that very often.”

Mr Obama then decided to make a joke to “break the mood” as he felt himself “getting kind of choked up” while speaking of Ellen.

The celebrated television presenter came out as a lesbian in 1997.  Her sitcom, Ellen, was cancelled shortly afterwards, leaving her unemployed and “mired in depression”.

She married Portia de Rossi at their Beverly Hills home in August 2008.

Feat image: AP

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