August 23, 2006
"O" Says "No"
The gay rumors about Oprah Winfrey and her sidekick of 30 years, Gayle King, stir up introspection & reflection after the tabloid titillation subsides.
The point I cannot get past is the fact that this debate still seems to matter to so many people: that's the really odd aspect in all this. There was an interesting article in The New York Times recently that addressed the issue of celebrities who are rumored to be gay, but in "reality" are not. How they handle the press was the main focus of the piece.
Just reading about who is 'suspect' is an exercise in witch-hunting itself. And we're all guilty. For example, Brokeback cowboy, Jake Gyllenhaal, was given kudos for the way he squelched the tittle-tattle about him. "I can honestly say I've never been attracted to a man sexually," he said, "but I don't think I'd be afraid of it if it happened." As I was reading that, the troublemaker in me was saying to myself, "Yeah, right. No totally straight man would have given that answer. He's qualifying the concept of his homosexuality instead of denying it." Shame on me!
The need to label people and keep them tucked into their little boxes is wrong in a time when we need to think globally — not secularly and cut our fellow human beings some slack. Besides, didn't Kinsey figure out decades ago that we're all part straight and part gay? It's the degrees of perceived 'gayness' that tip the scale and gets people assigned to one camp or another.
Back to Oprah and Gayle: some interesting insights into their deepest thoughts on the matter came to light in the media. "I understand why people think we're gay," said Winfrey. "There isn't a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women." Wanna bet, Big O? It's called lesbian. "So I get why people have to label it — how can you be this close without it being sexual?"
Perhaps the guru of daytime tripe, ever ready with the psycho-babble and aided resident shrink Dr. Phil, should expand her horizons and contemplate the notion that they may truly have a sexual attraction, but simply don't act on it. And that is the influence of a society which tells you and your frustrated girlfriend such sex-ploration is a complete taboo. This all-or-nothing attitude is fairly sophomoric, as are their "four-times-a-day phone calls." Schoolgirls do that, and they say things like, "Something about this relationship feels otherworldly to me, like it was designed by a power and a hand greater than my own." Gee, maybe you kids should become blood brothers — I mean sisters! (Is there a power greater than Oprah?)
It gets better: "Whatever this friendship is, it's been a very fun ride." After you girls are done at the carnival, you can swing by Burger King and put on a few protective pounds. That's another age old — and deeply psychological — way of avoiding your sexuality, also.
Ms. King came out with this: "The truth is, if we were gay, we would tell you because there's nothing wrong with being gay." Thanks, Gayle. There's nothing wrong with being the lapdog of the wealthiest woman in show business, either — that's obviously your calling. And then there's the mystery surrounding Stedman. Is he Oprah's beard? Is he in bed with Oprah or on the payroll of Harpo Productions? Or both? It's likely we'll never know.
One thing's for sure: nothing is ever what it seems when it comes to celebrities. That's why people (most famously Michelangelo Signorile) have persistently "outed" prominent persons since the 1980s. Then there's the desire of activists and gay people in general for icons to be gay, whether they are or not.
It's such great publicity. Well, let me re-think that. Abraham Lincoln was quite a catch, but Jeffrey Dahmer wasn't exactly good for the cause. Such is the human condition: all groups have their best and worst. As for Oprah & Gayle, let's just say they aren't gay for now, but they're grateful for the compliment.