Tomorrow at 9 a.m., I am not going to know what to do with myself. I know I’ll be sitting with my MacBook on my lap, next to my pug with a mug of coffee nearby, but I will feel a little lost because The Oprah Winfrey Show will not be on air.
You probably don’t watch Oprah until later in the afternoon. I live in Chicago, so we get to see episodes early and it’s hard to imagine my morning routine without it on. I’ve written about Oprah several times on AfterEllen.com (see “Oprah’s 12 Best Lesbian Moments“), including the recent posting of my mom’s photo with her in Morning Brew, but since it’s her last show ever today, I felt it fitting to give her a proper send-off.
I was inspired, really, by this Newsbusters piece, titled, “The Worst of Oprah: Daytime Talk Queen Ends Biased Reign.” The author writes:
Although self-identified gays and lesbians make up just three percent of American adults, they seem to be everywhere in Oprah’s world. She relentlessly draws attention to and celebrates them, as when she glowingly interviewed celebrities Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi. Two women marrying is not normal, but when it’s endorsed and promoted by powerful celebrities like Oprah, the cultural line is pushed and the “controversial” suddenly seems normal.
Oprah’s pro-gay propaganda isn’t limited to her TV show. She uses her magazine as well. A six-page, one-sided narrative about the wonderful world of lesbian love was featured in the March 2009 issue of O magazine in a piece titled, “Why Women are Leaving Men for Other Women.”
These exact points Newsbusters is attempting to use as negatives are what make Oprah so special to me and to our community. An eternal ally, Oprah has brought LGBT issues to her international stage. She’s made stars out of out gay experts Nate Berkus and Suze Orman, their talents and insights being the most important assets to her and the American people she introduced them to. She’s debunked rumors about her being a lesbian by saying, “[If I was gay] why would I want to hide it? That is not the way I run my life.”
And I believe her, because she’s been forthcoming about everything else in her life, including the fact she was sexually abused when she was a child, that she’s struggled with her weight, that she’s had a strained relationship with her family members. I’ve always appreciated her candor, and find Oprah one of the classiest and most intelligent personalities on television — ever.
I understand why some people find Oprah a little, well, annoying. You don’t get to be one of the most successful people in the world without people challenging you and trying to hold you back. But I hope that members of our community can appreciate the coverage and the respect she has given us over 25 years. I honestly think Oprah played a huge role in my mom’s acceptance of me as a lesbian. I wonder if any of you have moms who watch Oprah and who might have found themselves understanding more about you or other gays and lesbians based on the interviews and subjects discussed on the Oprah show.
In that respect alone, Oprah has changed my life. She’s done so in other ways, too. I’ve learned a lot from her as an avid reader, a student, a woman, a sister, a daughter, a partner, a pet owner. She’s giving me many “a-ha” moments on her show, in her magazine and now on her new network, OWN (which, for the record, already has a lot of gay visibility).
So Oprah, I will miss you in Chicago. I will miss our 9 a.m. meetings every morning. I will miss asking my mom, “Did you watch Oprah today?” But I know I’ll be seeing you in my mailbox every month, and on OWN, whenever you pop up to say hello.
Like you said on your finale episode today, “I won’t say ‘goodbye,’ I’ll say ‘until we meet again.’”
And to Newsbusters, thanks for reminding me of all the amazing work Oprah has done. Too bad she can’t reach all people as she’s reached me.