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Queer ex-prisoner emphatically shuts down Ellen DeGeneres who thinks being stuck in her mansion is like jail

Lily Wakefield April 13, 2020
Ellen DeGeneres made a return to air

Ellen DeGeneres, after production of her show was suspended due to coronavirus, is back and is filming from her Los Angeles living room. (Screen capture via YouTube)

A former prisoner has emphatically explained to Ellen DeGeneres what it’s really like being queer in prison and, no, it’s not the same as being quarantined in a $27 million mansion.

Last week, DeGeneres revived her talk show from home, filming from self-isolation in her five-bedroom, 12-bathroom Beverly Hills house, but opened with a joke that prompted an avalanche of backlash. 

She said: “This is like being in jail, is what it is. It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for ten days and everyone in here is gay.”

Although DeGeneres later quietly removed that section of the show, she has yet to address the incident or apologise.

Dominique Morgan, who uses they/them pronouns, is the executive director of Black and Pink, an organisation that supports LGBT+ and HIV-positive prisoners.

In response to the tasteless comment made by Ellen DeGeneres, they wrote a piece for ACLU titled: “I’m queer and I’ve been in solitary. Ellen isn’t experiencing what I did.”

Message to Ellen Degeneres
Dominique Morgan is the executive director of Black and Pink, an organisation that supports LGBT+ and HIV-positive prisoners. (Dominique Morgan/ Facebook)

Morgan said: “What Ellen is experiencing, as well as what many people around the country are experiencing, is nothing like jail. You have choice. You can actually social distance.”

Incarcerated people across America are being “locked down” as a preventative measure to stop coronavirus spreading, they said, and this lockdown bears “a striking resemblance to solitary confinement”.

They continued: “When you are in solitary, your partner is not there with you. You are not calling or FaceTiming your mother as many times as you like… Incarcerated people are filing lawsuits for access to toilet paper and soap. Those of us who have been incarcerated have always viewed these items as high-demand. For us, this is not new.”

Speaking directly to Degeneres, they said: “I assume if you wanted you could be tested for COVID-19 immediately.

“On the inside, we are fighting privatised health systems where a Tylenol is $5 and testing incarcerated people for COVID-19 is a dream that will not only be deferred, but most likely denied.

“Being queer in prison isn’t sitting on your outdoor furniture in your finest silk… The peace I witnessed on your face is an experience that queer people inside rarely have access to – especially in the midst of a pandemic.

“The queer and transgender youth that come on your show and dance and sing? Youth just like them are inside of youth detention centres all over this country, wondering when they will be able to go home.

“On any average day, prisons and jails in this country are the epicentre of the deterioration of humanity. In a time of crisis or pandemic it’s ten times worse.”

Morgan finished their message by reaching out to Degeneres, offering to discuss life inside for LGBT+ people.

They said: “I have a firm belief that empathy should be the tool we reach for first – especially at times like these.

“If you want to know what it’s like to be inside of jail and prisons, Ellen – give me a call. Not on Zoom though. I’m Zoomed out.”

More: Black and Pink, Coronavirus, Dominique Morgan, Ellen DeGeneres, incarceration, LGBT+ prisoners, Pandemic, prison, Quarantine, self-isolation, the ellen show

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