Read Kate McKinnon’s poignant tribute to Ellen DeGeneres at Golden Globes

Ellen DeGeneres accepts the Carol Burnett TV Achievement Award as presenter Kate McKinnon looks on at Sunday's Golden Globes.
(Paul Drinkwater / NBC/Associated Press)

“Saturday Night Live” star Kate McKinnon saluted Ellen DeGeneres at the Golden Globes Sunday with a moving tribute to the TV host, who received the second Carol Burnett Award for outstanding contributions to television.

But McKinnon got personal when speaking about the daytime TV host, explaining that it was of DeGeneres’ openness about her sexuality that encouraged McKinnon to pursue a career in television.

McKinnon, in 2012, became the first openly lesbian cast member to join “SNL.”

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The variety show star said that DeGeneres has given her both physical and spiritual gifts — like a variety of clothing after McKinnon did impressions of her. But more importantly, DeGeneres gave her “a road map for a way to be funny in a way that is grounded in the expression of joy,” “a desire to bring everyone together by laughing about the things that we have in common” and “a sense of self.”

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“In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking, ‘Am I gay?’ And I was. And I still am. That’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing ’23 and Me’ and discovering that you have alien DNA, and the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV,” McKinnon said.

“She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth and she suffered greatly for it. Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jumped into the fire to make that change,” she continued. “And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would’ve thought I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people on TV. And more than that, I would’ve gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn’t even have a right to be here.

“So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot and a good life, and thank you also for the sweater with the picture of the baby goat on it.”