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5 times Kate McKinnon made ‘SNL’ a better, gayer place

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During Saturday Night Live‘s 47th season finale last weekend, the sketch comedy stalwart offered up a fitting farewell to Kate McKinnon, one of its senior-most repertory players and—for the better part of the last decade—the heart of the show.A welcome reprisal of McKinnon’s Colleen Rafferty character, the cold open once again saw the brusque alien encounter-survivor share stories from her extraterrestrial experiences, which were somehow way more traumatic and strange than anyone else’s.At the sketch’s conclusion, she agrees to go live with the aliens permanently, saying her goodbyes: “Well, Earth, I love ya!

Thanks for letting me stay a while.” Through tears, McKinnon turned to camera to issue one final “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night.”Weird, warm, and intrinsically queer, the sketch was the perfect send-off for the performer who had a knack for goofball characterizations and off-kilter impressions, which made her a near-immediate star when she first stepped onto the stage at 30 Rock in April 2012.

Ten years later, she leaves the show with a lasting legacy, including two Emmy wins for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy (the first cast member to do so).But perhaps most importantly, McKinnon was the first openly gay woman to join the cast of the long-running series, and she made the show a better place simply by loudly and proudly being herself, which is why we are including her in this year’s Pride 50.

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