Talk show and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, typically happy to shill her brand of self-help advice to armies of "girlfriends" seeking her Svengali-like influence, has sought to quash rumors that she is an active lesbian by making a statement on the subject in the August edition of O, The Oprah Magazine.
"I understand why people think we're gay," Winfrey says. "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?"
The bond she refers to is that between herself and Gayle King, the editor-at-large for Oprah's O, The Oprah Magazine. King, a divorced mother of two, was a news anchor for many years before she took her position at O, and the two women have been friends for 30+ years.
My thought on this is if you have to issue a written statement in your own magazine to quash rumors about your sexual orientation, there might be a good reason the rumor is circulating.
Big Whoopi Goldberg – you're gay, bi, or possibly asexual. Who cares? Most people who really aren't gay would ignore such rumors, secure in their knowledge of the truth, but Oprah – always with the James Frey spin job – doesn't want to alienate her suburban housewife minions.
In the spirit of all this openness, I will admit I don't like Oprah. I find her disingenuous, arrogant, self-centered, and a raging hypocrite. I am in the minority. Perfectly sane and reasonable people seem to accept Oprah and her unrelenting advice on how to dress, eat, decorate, think, believe – live.
Oprah attempts to project a woman-of-the-people persona, and to an overwhelming degree, she has succeeded. But, there are those who don’t buy it – and I count myself among that small, elite minority.
An obvious comparison to the Oprah situation, were the rumors that circulated around fellow talk show host Ellen Degeneres, who also gives off a warm, sincere, like-your-best pal appeal, and chose to keep her sexual orientation a mystery until she felt the environment was more inviting to be herself. Unlike Oprah, Ellen never tried to pretend to be something she wasn’t, she just didn’t feel the need to share her private world with the public until she was comfortable doing so.
Perhaps Oprah just isn’t ready to be “real,” like she expects all her celebrity guests to be when she’s probing them for dirt.
Ultimately, I just find it difficult to accept advice from someone who is wholly unable to follow it herself.
Oprah has used her mercurial weight loss and gain as an example of how she's "just like us," struggling to be the best she can be, while dishing advice on being healthy. Unfortunately, her self-indulgent and opulent lifestyle flies in the face of her "down home girl" shtick and implies simple lack of self-discipline rather than commonality with the little people.
And is she the best person to be offering relationship advice when she has an extremely unconventional, highly suspect, and dysfunctional love life with entrepreneur Stedman Graham – a 20-plus year relationship that, for all intents and purposes, is a relationship of convenience? It's convenient for him to enjoy her money, and it's convenient for her to have a man around to offset salacious "rumors."
I do not care one way or the other about Oprah's sexuality or the nature of her relationships, but I do object to the hypocrisy of ensnaring legions of adoring fans and building a vast financial empire upon an image of commonality and the dispensing of "getting real" advice, when neither could be farther from the truth.
The disparity between her persona and her person are as far apart as "do as I say, not as I do"; and for that – sexuality completely aside – the woman is, simply, full of crap.