Ellen DeGeneres is kicking off season 15 of her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but she wasn’t always so freely available to celebrate herself. The Emmy-winning talk show host phoned in to On Air With Ryan Seacrest on Tuesday, September 5, and revealed that she was told to censor herself — specifically her sexuality. 

"They didn’t think anyone would watch a lesbian during the day,” DeGeneres recalled. “[Keeping my sexuality quiet] was really not just implied it was verbal … I remember there was something that happened to my finger and I was in a relationship and I was going to say ‘we’ and they wouldn’t let me say ‘we.’”

DeGeneres added that she suffered with finding a balance with not losing her fans and also those who didn’t agree with her.“It felt horrible because I had worked so hard to be truthful and to come to terms of my shame of hiding something that I knew wasn’t wrong … It was a hard balance,” she said. “What’s more appealing than anything is honesty. … It means a lot of different things. It’s not just 15 years … it’s 15 years of me thinking I wouldn’t work again so it’s really a great accomplishment."

Season 15 starts today! This is gonna be a lot of fun. #ellen15

A post shared by Ellen (@theellenshow) on

Season 15, the funnywoman added, will feature celebrity guests as well as focus on human interest. 

“It seems to me we kind of are focusing more on human interest … I like having real people — not that celebrities aren’t real people — but everyday heroes that would not otherwise get a spotlight shown on them,” she shared. “It feels like I’m contributing.” 

The Ellen DeGeneres Show airs weekly on NBC. Listen to the full interview above.