Ellen DeGeneres' dad found it a "challenge" to have an "openly gay child" because he was very "overprotective" of her.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres

The 58-year-old actress-and-talk show host announced to the world she was a lesbian in 1997 and she admits it wasn't easy for her father, insurance agent Elliott Everett DeGeneres, to deal with because he wanted her to have a quiet life and was the opposite of her "sassy" mother Betty DeGeneres.

Speaking to HELLO! magazine, she said: "My parents divorced when I was young - they were very different personalities. My mother is a strong woman, sarcastic and sassy, and I learnt how to be a tough woman from her. My dad is a wonderful man but he has a lot of fear and he was overprotective of me. He didn't want me to hurt myself so he wanted me to be nice and quiet all the time and not really argue or speak my opinion. So imagine his challenge of having an openly gay child ... When you're growing up, whatever your environment is, if you don't know any different, that is what it is. I didn't know anything was wrong until I got older and I started doing some soul-searching and read some books. I learnt a lot of lessons the hard way, which is a beautiful way to learn them."

Ellen married 43-year-old actress Portia de Rossi in 2008 and she insists her journey to being an open and happy gay person has made their relationship stronger.

Ellen says the best thing about their marriage is that she and Portia "support and believe" in each other.

She shared: "Now I have Portia in my life, I've been forced to grow a great deal, because I've learnt that you can't really get anything from anyone unless you have something to give to them. So I come to this relationship as a whole person, which I wasn't ever before. She and I both support each other and we both believe in each other and it's great."

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