When Tyler Glenn finally made the decision to come out, he sat down with Ellen DeGeneres. “I think I actually watched all of her interviews right as I was making my announcement,” the Neon Trees frontman told Radio.com. “It was powerful to see the strides that the gay community and gay culture have made in pop culture and society.”
In 1997, Ellen appeared on the cover of TIME next to the rather ho-hum headline, “Yep, I’m Gay,” and let the world know that owning her sexuality had been a “long process.” That process culminated on April 30, 1997 in an episode of her ABC sitcom, Ellen.
For anyone who was still in the closet, Ellen’s choice to come out, especially so publicly, was one giant leap for the LGBT community. Glenn, who was a teenager when Ellen came out of the closet, felt like the ’90s weren’t kind to gay public figures. “There was sort of this taboo nature in coming out in my experience as a teenager, so it gave me a level of fear,” he explained. “I remember when Ellen DeGeneres came out and that was such a huge deal.”