Ellen Pompeo tears up as she describes Grey’s Anatomy impact on LGBT kids
Ellen Pompeo has said she has “gotta keep doing” Grey’s Anatomy because of its impact on queer children.
The star, who plays titular character Meredith Grey on the long-running medical drama, teared up as she recounted how a gay teenager who appeared on the show told her it had helped him come out to his parents.
Appearing on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show on October 23, Pompeo said: “The first episode I directed, a teenager was in the show and he was gay, and he played a gay character on my show.
“After we had filmed the whole entire episode, he said to me: ‘You know, my whole life, I’ve watched this show with my parents, and I’ve sort of used the show as a way to tell my parents that I was gay, and to show my parents that it’s okay, that I’m not different, there’s nothing wrong with me.”
She added that the young actor had said that “Grey’s really helped my parents to understand what having a gay son meant, and that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
Tearing up, Pompeo continued to recall the teenager’s words, saying: “‘And for my parents to now see me as an actor, getting a part on this show, has just been everything.'”
The actress, who won an award from LGBT+ group GLSEN last week, emotionally explained to DeGeneres: “So I gotta keep doing it, man, because we’re touching lives and making a difference.”
She also confirmed that there will be a season 16 of the programme, meaning that it is set to surpass 350 episodes late next year.
“Everywhere I go, whether it’s Italy, whether it’s France, London, Kansas, [there are] people that come up to me with tears in their eyes and tell me how meaningful the show is to them,” she told DeGeneres.
The show’s extension into 2020 may open the door for Sara Ramirez to return as bisexual surgeon Callie Torres, the longest-running LGBT+ character on TV ever, after Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes said last month that she tried to get the actress back for the season 14 finale.
Rhimes added: “We love her. Always. This is her home. Come home Callie.”
The drama added its first ever male, gay surgeon this year, in the shape of recurring character Dr Nico Kim.
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He is the latest in a long line of queer characters which Grey’s has introduced to fans over the years, including lesbian doctor Arizona Robbins, who is the second longest-running queer character on TV, after Callie.
A transgender storyline was introduced during season 14 of the show, with trans actor Candis Cayne playing a patient who comes to Grey Sloan for a vaginoplasty.
The show’s writers were inspired by the story of Hayley Anthony, a trans woman who helped a doctor to create a revolutionary new procedure for vaginoplasty surgeries.
And earlier this year, intern Dr Casey Parker revealed that he was a trans man in a widely praised coming out episode.