Chatshow legend and LGBTQ rights advocate Ellen DeGeneres has defended enjoying a football game with former US President George W. Bush. She says she believes in being “kind to everyone”, even those who hold different views.
DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi were spotted on camera sitting alongside Bush on Sunday at a Dallas Cowboys game. The couple were sat next Bush and his wife, Laura, in the VIP stand.
The unexpected coupling – DeGeneres and Bush were seen talking and laughing together – was met with some surprise on social media. Many users blasted DeGeneres for socializing with the Republican politician.
During his time as President, Bush did little – if anything – for LGBTQ rights. He opposed same-sex marriage and during his 2004 re-election campaign suggested introducing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
He also defended the US military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy to keep serving members of the military in the closet.
Politico reporter and academic Adam B. Lerner was among those to ask if DeGeneres had, “forgotten about that whole anti-gay marriage, war in Iraq, general incompetence thing?”
Why are Ellen Degeneres and George W. Bush watching the Cowboys-packers game together? Has she forgotten about that whole anti-gay marriage, war in Iraq, general incompetence thing?
— Adam B. Lerner (@AdamBLerner) October 6, 2019
Out magazine tweeted that the sight of Bush and DeGeneres enjoying themselves together felt, “disappointing, irresponsible, and dangerous.”
One Twitter user may have been prophetic in how they saw the online furor playing out, predicting social media outrage followed by Ellen posting a message about how we all need to try to get along.
This is going to turn into a few days of people saying "what the fuck?" and a lot of LGBTQ people being justifiably and reasonably pissed at her for chatting it up with a guy who was literally about to change the constitution to deny her rights. https://t.co/qNVxa6CkGV
— T1theinfamous (@T1theinfamous) October 7, 2019
Well, today DeGeneres has done just that. On her official Twitter account, she posted a teaser clip from today’s pre-recorded Ellen Show in which she addresses the controversy.
She says: “Yes, that was me at the Cowboys game with George W. Bush over the weekend. Here’s the whole story.”
Yes, that was me at the Cowboys game with George W. Bush over the weekend. Here’s the whole story. pic.twitter.com/AYiwY5gTIS
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) October 8, 2019
She goes on to explain that she and de Rossi had been invited by Charlotte Jones, daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones.
“So anyway, we get to sit in this very fancy suite because he owns the whole place … and he’s got, fancy friends. And I don’t mean fancy like ‘Real Housewives’ fancy. I mean, like, fancy.”
She then plays a video showing Bush sat next to her, smiling for her camera.
She goes on to say that when she was invited, she was “aware I was going to be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs. And I’m not talking about politics. I was rooting for the [Green Bay] Packers. And everybody in the Cowboys suite was rooting for the Cowboys. So I had to hide my cheese hat in Portia’s purse.
“Don’t get me wrong. I love the cowboys. I love all the Village People, as a matter of fact,” she continues to quip.
Then she gets a little more serious.
“During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together. And so, people were upset. They thought why is a gay, Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative, Republican President? [They] didn’t even notice I’m holding the brand new iPhone 11.
“A lot of people were mad and they did what people do when they’re mad, they tweet.
“But here’s one tweet I love: ‘Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.’”
That tweet was posted by @Matthew_Oooo – and it was preceded by ‘HAHAHA’ but this part was cut from Ellen’s version.
DeGeneres applauds the tweet, and says, “Exactly!
“Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush,” she continues. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different. And I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different.
“For instance, I wish people wouldn’t wear fur. I don’t like it but I’m friends with people who wear fur … just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.
“When I say be kind to one another I don’t mean only the people that think the same way as you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”
She goes on to thank Jerry and Charlotte Jones for hosting her and Portia, and to thank George and Laura Bush “for a Sunday afternoon that was so fun.”
At the time of writing, Ellen’s tweet had been liked over 75k times but prompted very divisive responses.
Many praised DeGeneres’ for her stance but others called her a “sellout”, pointing to Bush’s pivotal role in the Iraq war and his more recent support for Brett Kavanaugh to be approved for the Supreme Court.
Disagreeing with friends that wear fur is not the same as being friends with an anti-gay war criminal President that directly and negatively impacted millions of lives.
— David Doel (@daviddoel) October 8, 2019
It appears many of you may be genuinely unaware that insiders said NOBODY worked harder to get Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court than George W. Bush.
He fought for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
And the Iraq War, which was based on a lie, killed millions.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 8, 2019