Content Warning: This post contains mentions of sexual assault and mental health issues, and may be triggering to some readers.
When Ellen DeGeneres came out to the world as gay, her new girlfriend Anne Heche was by her side. For three years, they were the most famous same-sex couple in the world. Then they split, and the same day, Heche suffered a psychotic breakdown.
Heche was battling mental health issues long before she met DeGeneres. She has said she was sexually abused by her father from the time she was a toddler, and that abuse triggered her mental illness.
"I had a fantasy world that I escaped to," she told interviewer Barbara Walters in 2001. "I called my other personality Celestia. I believed I was from that world. I believed I was from another planet. I think I was insane."
Heche’s father Donald, a Baptist choir director, died from AIDS when Heche was 13. She only found out he was gay just before he died. Just a few months later, Heche also lost her brother Nate when he crashed his car into a tree.
While still in her teens, Heche scored a role in daytime soap Another World, playing evil twins. She won a Daytime Emmy and starred in acclaimed movies including Donnie Brasco. She dated actor Steve Martin, 30 years her senior, and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham, who wrote a song about her.
At the same time, she was also experiencing "moments of madness".
"You name it, I could do it," she said. "I could see into the future. I could heal people. I don't know where it came from. I was, in my mind, learning it from God."
Then Ellen DeGeneres came into her life.
It was Oscars night in 1997, and both Heche and DeGeneres were at the Vanity Fair party. Ellen was just days away from coming out in her self-titled sitcom. Heche was just days away from the premiere of her movie Volcano.
DeGeneres had already seen Heche in Walking And Talking and thought she was "amazing".
"And then I met her at the Vanity Fair party," she later recalled. "And it was a chemistry thing that you can't really describe. It just happened. Obviously I was attracted to her, but that wasn't enough. There are a lot of attractive people. She is so unique."