Queer Philadelphia couple Kate Austin and Sarah Sulsenti appeared on “The Ellen Show” last week after asking the talk show host in a viral tweet to attend their upcoming wedding.
Austin’s social media post shows her recently proposing to Sulsenti in front of the Eiffel Tower with a caption asking Ellen DeGeneres and model and author Chrissy Teigen to attend the Philly duo’s wedding because Austin’s parents won’t attend due to her being gay.
“My parents aren’t going to attend my wedding because they don’t like that I’m gay! I need someone to walk me down the aisle and someone else for a “father/daughter” dance,” the Nov. 5 tweet reads.
In turn, DeGeneres invited Austin and Sulsenti on her show and further surprised them by calling the two on stage. During the appearance, Austin thanked DeGeneres for having “paved the way for queer women everywhere” to come out and said she otherwise wouldn’t have had the courage to be out and propose to Sulsenti.
“Everybody deserves love. That’s the most important thing,” DeGeneres responded. “All that matters in this life is love and the fact that some people don’t understand that it’s just love, there’s nothing wrong with it and the fact that your family doesn’t accept it, I am so sorry.”
Austin, an LGBTQ social media influencer, was the captain of the cheerleading squad growing up and loved femme items including makeup, high heels and princess costumes, according to her personal website. Stereotypes, misconceptions and a lack of acceptance from her parents made it difficult for her to come out. While her six siblings are “absolutely phenomenal” with her being gay, her mom was “really terrible” and “said everything you could think of under the sun,” Austin said on “Ellen.”
“But coming out and owning it and growing over the last five years has been the greatest gift,” she added. “I am so thankful that I came out because it’s taught me courage and owning who I am and it allowed me to be my authentic self.”
DeGeneres, who came out in 1997 to an audience of nearly 42 million people, then surprised the couple with some of their friends and family, who surrounded the two as Sulsenti got down on one knee to propose to Austin.
“I know you already proposed to me, but of course you know I had to get my piece in there because you deserve it and there’s no better way to do it than in front of our chosen family and, of course, our biggest role model,” Sulsenti said. “The way that you feel today is the way that you make me feel every day and I can’t wait to spend my life feeling that way.”
While DeGeneres said she won’t be able to attend Sulsenti and Austin’s wedding, she offered the couple a cardboard cutout of herself as a stand-in — complete with tissues to wipe away any wedding day tears.
The Nov. 19 segment concluded with the celebrity presenting Sulsenti and Austin a $25,000 check from photography company Shutterfly to pay for an open bar at the wedding.
She then addressed LGBTQ viewers who similarly don’t have support from their families.
“You are loved by so many people and we love you for who you are exactly, so know that,” DeGeneres said. “And anybody struggling out there, just be proud of you are and know that you’re going to find a different family.”