“What if the freedom to be yourself all came down to where you live?” That’s what Oprah asked in her “Gay Around the World” episode on Oct. 24. She said gays and lesbians are in the midst of a “global civil rights revolution,” citing Dumbledore’s recent outing as an example of change for the better. She also provided a summary of global laws and severe punishments, such as stoning and beheading. And she touched on the state of U.S. issues, including gay marriage, adoption, workplace discrimination and “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The first segment of the show concerned an Indian prince, Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla. He faced family shame and public outrage when he came out. He still lives in a palace, but he has struggled with mental health issues — though he says he has no regrets. Hang in there, Prince Manvendra! Your turban is downright fabulous.
The second segment of the show focused on Staceyann Chin, who was born in Jamaica and now lives in New York City.
In Jamaica, gays and lesbians are targeted by mobs and fear for their safety daily. Staceyann described the homophobic culture of her childhood, including the brutal sexual assault she suffered. You can read more of Staceyann’s story on Oprah’s website.
The last interview segment was a chat with John Amaechi, the former NBA player who came out earlier this year. He’s single, but Oprah seemed pretty certain he’ll have no trouble getting dates.
After the interviews, Rachel Dowd, Deputy Editor of The Advocate, declared Sweden the most gay-friendly country on the planet. She also expressed optimism about the progress in the U.S., and characterized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent comments at Columbia as “laughable.”
Oprah was encouraging and friendly throughout the episode. All in all, the show was a thoughtful exploration of the discrimination gays and lesbians face around the world. (Fine, I’m a little skeptical about the whole “global revolution” thing, but it’s a nice idea.) Oprah even mentioned her guest-star turn on Ellen and noted that she got so much hate mail afterward — and yet Ellen DeGeneres went on to host the Oscars. Thanks, Oprah: You’re still doing a lot of good!