real life

Once I was a cyber lesbian

Oprah is not a lesbian, ok? It’s important you know this. Not because
there’s anything wrong with BEING a lesbian. Nothing at all. Oprah
loves lesbians (in a fully clothed kind of way) just like she loves all
minorities. And also probably majorities. Oprah loves everyone, y’hear?

The point is that she’s getting sick and tired of having to explain her
very close friendship with best friend Gayle King. It’s making her
cross. And frankly, what’s the point of having billions of dollars and
unimaginable power if you have to feel cross about something. If I had
billions of dollars I would never want to be cross. I’d want to go
shopping and buy giant houses – I mean, become a philanthropist and
adopt orphans.

The lesbian rumour has wafted around Oprah and Gayle forever. They’ve been friends for 30 years, they talk four times a day and they frequently travel together. They stay in Oprah’s many houses all over the world but no need for bed sharing because Gayle has her own room in every house. I know this because Oprah once said it on her show and that’s when I decided I’d like very much like to be Oprah’s friend. So where do the lesbian rumours come from?

Well, Oprah has been with her partner Stedman Graham, an American businessman, for 20 years but they are not married. And Gayle is a divorced mother of two boys. So CLEARLY they must be gay. D’uh! I mean, it’s just so obvious. They’re practically Dykes on Bikes.

When I typed “Oprah lesbian” into my Google homepage, I got 1.1 million matches. “Oprah gay” elicited a further 1.34 million. Being a meticulous researcher, I clicked on about three links before I got bored and accidentally wandered off to my favourite gossip site.

There, I discovered a whole host of other celebrities who are allegedly gay and hiding it. Except there’s no ‘allegedly’ in cyberspace, just ‘closeted’.  Pretty much every Oscar winner, every major pop star and every blockbuster actor has been smacked with the gay-rumour stick at some stage in their career. The more famous they are, the more they are accused of hiding their gayness.

Celebrities take different approaches to gay rumours. Some wear them like a badge of honour, joking about them in interviews. Some ignore them. Some sue the pants off anyone who repeats them in print. Then there’s Oprah.  Helpfully, she has her own magazine in which to clarify who she likes to get naked with.

“I understand why people think we’re gay,” Oprah declares while sitting alongside Gayle in a recent issue. “There isn’t a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women. So I get why people have to label it – how can you be this close without it being sexual? How else can you explain a level of intimacy where someone always loves you, always respects you, admires you? Wants the best for you in every single situation of your life. Lifts you up. Supports you. Always! That’s an incredibly rare thing between even the closest of friends.”


Like many of the other rumoured-to-be-gay celebrities, Oprah insists it isn’t the gay part that bothers her. It’s the suggestion she’s a liar.  “I’ve told nearly everything there is to tell. All my stuff is out there. People think I’d be so ashamed of being gay that I wouldn’t admit it? Oh, please.”
That’s why she wanted to speak out once and for all. Gayle’s motivation was more basic. “It’s hard enough to get a date on Saturday night!” she complains before conceding,  “If Oprah was a man, I’d marry her.”

I’ve been mistaken for a lesbian before. Like Oprah.  Me and Oprah. Secret lesbians. Both of us.

I discovered I was gay online. As one does. It was a few years ago and I’d made the mistake of going on to a certain fashion magazine’s website where there’s a discussion board for girls to cyber chat about fashion, models, magazines and the people who work on them.
Over time, I learnt many illuminating things about myself on those boards including that I was a ‘stuck-up cow’ as declared by someone who’d been in my building on work experience and once shared a silent lift ride with me for, oh, at least 30 seconds. And now I was gay.

“Mia Freedman is totally a lesbian” posted BellaDiva in a discussion between a bunch of girls who appeared to be about 16 years old.
“But I thought she was married and had a baby???” posted MissLipstick.
But BellaDIVA was having none of it.
“No way. There are always lesbian articles in Cosmo because she is SOOOOO a lesbian and it’s like her personal agenda to promote lesbianism.”
It’s true. I did have an agenda. It was called Selling-Lots-Of-Magazines and at that time, stories about lesbians and bisexuality did just that. Cunning.

But back to my new secret lesbian friend Oprah. Here’s what she had to say about how she and Gayle met:  “When I was 22 years old and working as a TV anchor in Baltimore, there was a young production assistant in the newsroom, Gayle King. One night there was a snowstorm and she couldn’t get home. I said ‘Hey, you can spend the night at my house.’ She said, ‘I don’t have any panties.’ I said, “Well, I do. I have clean panties, and once I give ’em to you, you don’t have to give ’em back.'”

Free undies? That Oprah, she’s a generous friend.

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