ELLEN DeGeneres' former boyfriend is convinced they'd still be close if she was still in her home town.
The 56-year-old talk show host - who is married to actress Portia de Rossi - dated Ben Heath for two years until he left Louisiana to go to college and he thinks they would be friends now if circumstances had been different.
He told America's Star magazine: "I'd feel like we'd have been good friends if she'd stayed here, regardless of her sexual orientation."
Ben also recalled the "fun times" he and Ellen had together and how much he loved her "wit and humour".
He said: "We had fun times, whether it was dancing or horseback riding, the kind of stuff us country guys do.
"I remember on some dates we went to an old club in Taxarkana. She wasn't old enough, but she could talk her way in. We'd go up there and go dancing, do the bump to the old David Bowie songs, that kind of stuff. Obviously, she was a lot of fun -- her wit and humour, she always had that. That kept things alive, kept the conversation good."
Ellen - who came out as a lesbian in 1997 - has previously admitted she "desperately" wanted to marry Ben.
She has said: "I wanted to marry Ben desperately.
"I'm sure I'd have a nice place with Ben somewhere, and we'd have kids, and I wouldn't have known. I could have chosen to live my life in a way just to fit into society. But I would not be happy."
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