"My story moved the needle for equal rights forward, when I fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres," said Heche, who dated DeGeneres from 1997 to 2000. "At my movie premiere for Volcano, I said I was taking Ellen as my date. I was told I would lose my Fox contract."
"She took my hand and said, 'Do what they say.' I said, 'No thanks,'" the actress continued. "I took Ellen to the premiere, I was ushered out and told I was not allowed to go to the afterparty for fear they would get pictures of me with a woman. It was unbelievable."
Heche said DeGeneres was "warning" her about what would happen, but she didn't see it. "I was in a relationship with Ellen for three and a half years, and the stigma attached to that relationship was so bad, I was fired from my multimillion dollar picture deal. I did not work in a studio picture for 10 years," she said.
The 51-year-old actress took the stage for her Paso Doble in a rainbow ensemble. Her dance with Keo Motsepe to "Rise" by Katy Perry -- and her bravery in sharing her story -- earned praise from the judges.
"Oh, my darling, I really admire you for what you did," Bruno Tonioli said. "I'm telling you, the multicolored warrior is strong and proud and stands for what she believes in. It was the most focused performance up to date, but a couple of stumbles."
Derek Hough and Carrie Ann Inaba also complimented Heche, who said she felt "redeemed" after placing in the bottom two last week. Heche and Motsepe earned a 21/30.
Heche teased Monday's episode on Instagram, writing, "Here we go! Tonight I Rise! @katyperry I hope you tune in to @dancingabc where I will talk about my story in the ’90s and how standing up for #lgbtq rights impacted my career in a way that it would not today. Whatever the consequences of that were, the good far outweighs the bad, and I would not change any of it. I hope that by living my life in honesty helped move the needle of acceptance. I will always fight for the right to live openly and proudly in truth! 🌈💖
Here’s how to vote for me:
1️⃣ Get ready to vote right at 5pm PT (8pm ET)
2️⃣ Vote 10 times online (DWTSvote.abc.com)
3️⃣ Vote 10 times via text (text ANNE to 21523)
Heche and Motsepe escaped elimination after being in the bottom two with Carole Baskin and Pasha Pashkov last week. In an interview with ET after the show, Heche said she and Motsepe would "never" be in the bottom two again.
"That's not the position I want to be in, nor is it the position I want my partner to be in," she said.
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See more in the video below.