Feature

Oprah

The meaning of a denial.

In case you were wondering, said Chuck Yarborough in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Oprah Winfrey isn't gay. 'œWe know this because she said so, and Oprah never lies.' In an interview granted exclusively to her own magazine, O, the billionaire talk-show queen and her best friend, Gayle King, shared candid details of their intimate, 30-year relationship, which has been the subject of widespread rumor. Yes, Oprah conceded, she and King are both unmarried, vacation together, and 'œtalk on the phone four times a day.' But there's nothing sexual or even unusual about their closeness; in Oprah's words, it's just that 'œthere isn't a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women.' Added King, 'œIf we were gay, we would so tell you, because there's nothing wrong with being gay.' So that settles that.

Snigger if you must, said Nicole Pesce in the New York Daily News, but Oprah's point is undeniable. There really is no word in our male-dominated society for the profound but asexual friendships that arise between women. In big cities, it has even become common for two platonic female friends to engage in 'œdate-like behavior,' dining à deux in ritzy restaurants and giving each other jewelry. And when you consider how hard it must be for someone as rich and famous as Oprah to make 'œtrustworthy new friends,' is it really surprising that she would place such value on a friendship that preceded her success? Still, announcing that she isn't gay may backfire, said the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an editorial. It's like Richard Nixon swearing he wasn't a crook, or a hard-drinking friend insisting he's no alcoholic: Such denials only serve to get people's 'œmental wheels turning.'

Jenice Armstrong

Philadelphia Daily News

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