TV mega-star Ellen DeGeneres first met actress Anne Heche at the Vanity Fair Oscars party in 1997. It was practically love at first sight for the two, who quickly started dating soon after that. At the time of the party, DeGeneres hadn’t publicly come out yet, but she made her big announcement literally days later, according to InStyle.
The two openly gay and in-love stars dealt with their fair share of controversy — they were easily the most famous LGBTQ couple in Hollywood at a time when not as many people were okay with same-sex relationships. Apparently it was harder for DeGeneres to feel comfortable with being out in a same-sex relationship than it was for Heche. The now-polarizing TV host told the Los Angeles Times in 2001, “I didn’t want to hold hands. I had never done that in public. And yet there was this attitude of, you know, ‘You’re going to be on the cover of Time magazine and say you’re gay but you’re not going to hold hands? You deserve to hold hands as much as Tom and Nicole. Or Tom and Rita.’ So I have to take responsibility for participating in [that].”
Their romance wasn’t meant to last forever, though — the two called it quits three and a half years into the relationship. According to ABC News, the relationship ended in late summer 2000, just weeks after the couple was seen house hunting in LA, looking as happy as ever. So, what went wrong?
Ellen DeGeneres said she felt 'betrayed' by the breakup
The official statement Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres provided at the time of their breakup was this (via ABC News): “Unfortunately, we have decided to end our relationship. It is an amicable parting, and we greatly value the 3 1/2 years we have spent together. We hope everyone will respect our privacy through this difficult time.” A source told the news outlet at the time that the relationship had run its course, nothing more, nothing less.
However, DeGeneres told the Los Angeles Times in 2001 that the split sent her reeling. “She walked out the door and I haven’t spoken to her since, I don’t have the answers,” she said. “I would love to have them myself. I would ask all of the questions that everyone else wants to ask…. I’m left with everybody else wondering what happened. I don’t know. I really don’t…. I feel betrayed.” DeGeneres added that this was the first time she’d ever had her heart broken and didn’t have closure. Even years later, the two haven’t said any more about what went wrong in the relationship.
Following their breakup, both moved on to other relationships. Heche married and divorced Coleman Laffoon, a cameraman she met on DeGeneres’ show, and had a child with actor James Tupper before splitting up with him in 2018. DeGeneres dated Alexandra Hedison for a bit before settling down with Portia de Rossi in 2004, whom she’s been with ever since.
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