Discussing Heche's former relationship with Ellen DeGeneres — the two dated from 1997 to 2000 — Derek Warburton, who works as a celebrity stylist, marveled at the way his friend boldly chose to come out.
"She did it for all the right reasons and she knew that. She knew what was right and I have admired that," Warburton shared. "The moment she decided to bring Ellen to the Volcano premiere, risking it all, she changed the course of history for the LGBTQ community."
"She changed my life that moment," he added. "They together gave me and millions the permission to be who we are, without apology."
"Even the aftermath, when Ellen didn’t give her the credit she deserved, Anne knew what she had done and it was her biggest accomplishment besides her two beautiful children," he continued.
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Warburton reportedly became friends with the Donnie Brasco star after they bonded over their difficult childhoods.
"What does not kill us makes us stronger. She and I have talked extensively about all of this," she shared of their close friendship. "You make a decision when you come from such hardships. You sink or swim, you find great strength or succumb to weakness."
"We both bonded over finding great strength and it made us fearless," he noted. "When you have gone through everything, you know what to expect and when you discover that you survived it, what else are you going to be afraid of."
As OK! previously reported, Heche died at 53-years-old on Friday, August 12, one week after crashing her car into an apartment complex, causing it to burst into flames.
"This is a sad day," DeGeneres tweeted on Friday, August 12. "I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love."
Warburton spoke with The Sun about his friendship with Heche.