Ellen DeGeneres Reveals How Coming Out Inspired Her To Be A More Positive Comedian

"I was the punch line of lots of jokes."

OUT magazine has named Ellen DeGeneres the Entertainer of the Year for its 2016 OUT100 Issue — and it made the decision even before seeing her amazing Sia Halloween costume.

One of our favorite things about Ellen has always been her positivity. Not only does she bring attention to important causes and deserving people through her daily talk show, but her style of comedy consistently veers away from cruel or mocking jokes. She encourages others to follow her lead by frequently reminding her viewers to "be kind to one another."

As Ellen reveals in her new interview with OUT, the experience of coming out as gay cemented this positive approach to entertaining. She publicly came out in 1997 on the cover of Time magazine, at around the same time as her character on the ABC sitcom Ellen. The reaction wasn't entirely supportive.

"I was the punch line of lots of jokes," she recalls. "I laughed at some, but I realized there's somebody on the other side of them. It's cruel. I've never liked mean comedy, but that became even more important to me after I was the brunt of it."

Ellen's sitcom was canceled in 1998, and she admits to feeling insecure before getting her talk show off the ground. She eventually stopped trying to alter herself, and the resulting realness has connected with people.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to work again, and although I was out, I was still trying to alter myself — not dressing the way I wanted to dress or wearing my hair the way I wanted to," she explains. "I slowly gained the confidence to be authentic, and what I've learned about other people is that they strive to be authentic, too. So whether they fully support me, love my lifestyle, or love that I'm married to a woman, I think they like that authenticity, and they're drawn to it."

When it comes to inspiring other people going through hard times of their own, Ellen references the It Gets Better movement and adds, "It gets much better than better."

The new OUT100 Issue also features Hamilton star Javier Muñoz, fashion designer Tom Ford, and model Tracey Norman.

(H/T: ET Online)