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UNT Insider | September 2007 Issue | Betty DeGeneres

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Ellen's mom, Betty DeGeneres, to speak in Dallas Nov. 8

From a UNT News Service press release

Betty DeGeneres

Betty DeGeneres

Event Canceled

Betty DeGeneres - advocate for GLBTA rights, author, and mother of comedienne/talk show hostess Ellen DeGeneres - will share her thoughts on life in an appearance Nov. 8 at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak at Good-Latimer in Dallas.

Tickets are $20 for UNT students and $50 for the public. A limited number of VIP packages will be available for $250, and will include two tickets and access to a VIP reception prior to the presentation. Tickets can be purchased with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, and will be sold through Ticketweb beginning Aug. 24.

The UNT Division of Equity and Diversity regularly sponsors speakers who represent the diversity of both the UNT System and the country. Past speakers have included poet/scholar Maya Angelou, singer Patti LaBelle and actor B.D. Wong.

This year's event will be in Dallas to reach out to the Dallas-Fort Worth community, as well as to involve members of the UNT Dallas campus. Net proceeds from the event will be used to fund GLBTA scholarships administered by the Division of Equity and Diversity. DeGeneres also will meet with UNT student leaders at the Denton campus.

Ellen DeGeneres made history in April 1997 when both she and the character she portrayed on the ABC-TV program "Ellen" came out of the closet. The real and fictional characters were the first lead actor and character on network television to acknowledge being gay.

Betty DeGeneres - known as Betty just as Ellen is known by her first name - then became the Human Rights Campaign's National Coming Out spokesperson. She has appeared in television public service announcements and has spoken throughout the country to promote honesty about being gay, having a gay family member, and supporting equal rights for gay people.

"On numerous occasions, I have heard the stories of young people regarding the challenges of coming out about their homosexuality, especially to their parents," says Cassandra Berry, associate vice president for equity and diversity. "One student's story in particular touched me such that I felt it necessary to create an opportunity for our students and their parents/families and the community at large to hear a powerful story about acceptance. Betty DeGeneres lives that story."

Betty was born in New Orleans in 1930. After attending Louisiana State University for two years, she married Elliott DeGeneres in 1952 and divorced in 1970. Her two children, Vance and Ellen, were born in 1954 and 1958.

Betty worked in a variety of jobs while her children were growing up. She also earned her real estate license, and a bachelor's and master's degree in speech therapy.

Betty worked as a speech therapist for developmentally disabled adults and, for a time, joined the staff of Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. When Ellen's ABC television show, "Ellen," debuted in 1993, Betty made her show business debut in promotions for the program, and on Comedy Central.

UNT News Service Press Release
Rafael McDonnell can be reached at RMcDonnell@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

September 2007

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