After a lesbian couple sent a now-viral tweet asking Ellen DeGeneres to attend their wedding because some of their family members would not, the talk show host surprised the couple by inviting them on her show as special guests.
“Hi @chrissyteigen & @TheEllenShow!! my parents aren’t going to attend my wedding because they don’t like that i’m gay!” Kate Austin wrote Nov. 5, in a tweet that received more than 178,000 likes and 25,000 retweets. “I need someone to walk me down the aisle and someone else for a “father/daughter” dance. plz come, my fiancée and i would cry.”
The tweet was accompanied by a picture of Austin proposing to her girlfriend, Sarah Sulsenti, in front of the Eiffel Tower.
On Monday, DeGeneres replied to the tweet, writing “See you tomorrow.”
During the “Show Me Your Tweets” segment on Tuesday’s show, DeGeneres called the couple, who was sitting in the audience, onto the stage. DeGeneres asked the pair about their engagement, at which point Austin, who was drying her tears with a tissue, thanked DeGeneres for inspiring her and endowing her with the courage to propose to Sulsenti.
“If it wasn’t for someone like you, I would’ve never had the courage to just go out there in public and propose to my fiancée,” she said. “So many people don’t accept that, and you paved the way for queer women everywhere.”
Austin said she’d been out for five years, and while her mom was “terrible” about her being gay, coming out has allowed her to be her “authentic self.”
“Everybody deserves love. That’s all that matters in this life,” DeGeneres, who is married to actress Portia de Rossi, said. “And the fact that your family doesn’t accept it, I am so sorry.”
DeGeneres can’t attend the wedding, but gifted Austin and Sulsenti with a cardboard cutout version of herself, dressed in a white suit and holding tissues, to take her place.
But the surprises didn’t end there. The comedian also invited the couple’s closest family and friends to the show so that Sulsenti could take her turn proposing to Austin.
“The way that you feel today is the way you make me feel every day, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life feeling that way,” Sulsenti said, before getting down on one knee and asking Austin to marry her.
After the second proposal, DeGeneres also presented the couple with a $25,000 check to help them fund an open bar at their wedding.
“For Kate and for all the people out there who are not accepted by their family, you are loved by so many people," DeGeneres said. "We love you for who you are exactly,”
“For anybody struggling out there, just be proud of who you are and know that you're going to find a different family," she said, referring to the concept of "chosen family," which is common among LGBTQ people who are not accepted by their biological family. "Maybe that family will come around eventually, but for now you have this family."
DeGeneres has routinely invited noncelebrity LGBTQ guests with compelling personal stories on her show, including Constance McMillen, a lesbian teen who was not allowed to attend her high school prom with her girlfriend, and Seth Owen, a valedictorian who was forced out of his home after coming out as gay.