Back in the day, Ellen DeGeneres feared that the world would not joyfully embrace her if she came out as a lesbian, and as such she made public appearances with masculine actor Johnathon Schaech. In the mid-'90s, when Ellen's sitcom was on TV, she and Schaech posed as couples do on the red carpet three different times, including at the 1995 SAG Awards. Then in 1997, DeGeneres opened up about her sexuality, and she has since married Portia de Rossi.

Ellen, beard-free and happy with her wifey.
Ellen, beard-free and happy with her wifey.
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While taking part in a Reddit AMA, Schaech was reminded of the brief but fascinating period for which he played the role of Ellen's beard.

My manager asked me to accompany her to events. She was scared people would not watch the show, Her sitcom Ellen, because she was gay.  It was an honor. I grew up with two gay aunts and a gay uncle. My Aunt died of cancer. She was a proud woman and she didn’t get proper care because she didn’t want to be away from her partner. Hospitals didn’t allow partners the same rights as a spouse. When you have someone you love in your life that is gay or a lesbian it’s very clear that they deserve the same rights as anyone else. It's not about religion.  If you don’t love ELLEN now -- you don’t watch her show. She’s a great example for the human race.

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Sources: h/t Jezebel