“Coming Out” On The Oprah Show: 25 Years of Unforgettable Guests | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN


[MUSIC] OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: Today, all new… MICHAEL KAPLAN: Hello, America. I’m gay. WINFREY: Twenty-five years of groundbreaking shows–today is National Coming Out day. One of the world’s greatest athletes, the landmark interview–were you scared–fifteen years later, Olympic hero Greg Louganis. They were married seven years, but she’s gay, and he’s gay. There was an audible gasp from the studio audience. Plus, publicly disowned, the world’s only openly gay prince is back with big news. Next. WINFREY: When it comes to controversial subjects, we’ve always tried to face them head on. We’ve covered gay issues just about every which way you can over the past 25 years. In 1987, 70% of Americans thought homosexuality was a sin. Seventy percent, isn’t that shocking? Well, the numbers have gone down, but we still have a long way to go. Our intention is and has always been to help people see things differently by giving a voice to those that might not otherwise be heard, and in doing so, we have helped ignite a national debate. Take a look. WINFREY: It was 1986. We’d been on the air just a couple of months when we first started talking about gay issues. WINFREY: We’re talking today about homophobia. That was just the beginning of a highly charged conversation that has continued all these years. WINFREY: In 1988, we had an audience full of gay people come out to the world. Back then that was a big deal. Mr. KAPLAN: My name is Michael Kaplan. Hello, America. I’m gay. WINFREY: It became an annual event. Today is National Coming Out day. I remember how fired up people would get whenever we brought it up. MALE, AUDIENCE MEMBER: We have a right to live our life anywhere we want. [APPLAUSE] MALE, GUEST: I think that you’re wrong. MALE, AUDIENCE MEMBER: You’re obnoxious. You’re a bigot. FEMALE, AUDIENCE MEMBER: You know what we’re going to have next? We are going to have a man who has a perversion, an abomination, to have sex with a child, and he will then–he will then–wait just a minute because I’ve listened to enough crap and enough hypocrisy that I have had it up to here. WINFREY: Well, you know what I’ve had it up to here with? I’ve had it up with heterosexual men raping and sodomizing little children. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: We’ve done more than 120 shows over the years about being gay. In 1997, Ellen Degeneres appeared on our show after finally admitting to the world that she was gay. ELLEN DEGENERES: I was scared to death if you knew I was gay that you wouldn’t like me. WINFREY: Did you think that about other people, too? Ms. DEGENERES: Just you. WINFREY: Oh. [LAUGHTER] Ms. DEGENERES: No. WINFREY: That show earned us the first of seven GLAAD awards. That’s the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. We got a big response from viewers when Ellen came out. A lot of viewers were angry, but many were inspired, like Rusty from Utah. RUSTY, UTAH: Seeing Ellen stand out in the public eye and be willing to risk her career, to really just stand firm in who she was, gave me so much strength to be able to really be myself. WINFREY: Just last year, country music star Shelly Wright broke her silence. SHELLY WRIGHT: I said, “Dad, sit down. I have to tell you something I’ve needed to tell you my whole life. I’ve been afraid, though, to tell you because I’m afraid you won’t love me and I’m afraid you’ll be ashamed of me.” And I said, “I’m gay.” WINFREY: And, Stan, you said? STAN: I didn’t say a word. I grabbed her, and I put my arms around her. I told her it was all right. Be fine. WINFREY: For all of these years, after all of these shows, viewers from every walk of life told us again and again that our candid conversations had an impact. KIM: When my 21-year-old daughter came out and told me that she was gay, I was completely in shock. I turn “Oprah” on, and there’s Shelly Wright telling her story about coming out. It was the turning point for me in being able to accept my daughter for who she is. WINFREY: Wow. That is exactly why we do this, Kim. And today we’ll be checking back with some of those memorable guests, starting with a man who is one of the greatest athletes of our time. In 1995, Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis chose this stage, ours, to speak out publicly in front of an audience for the first time about a secret that he had been keeping for years, that he was gay and HIV-positive. This was a very big deal then. Take a look. GREG LOUGANIS: It’s been so difficult, you know, with the secrets and, you know, asking people to keep those secrets. It’s an incredible burden. I mean, I got to the point where I would just, you know, hide in my house with my dogs, because I knew it was safe because I always had to, if I was out in public, then I had to edit myself and had to, you know… WINFREY: So were you always feeling, though, Greg, like a fake then? Were you feeling like a fake? Mr. LOUGANIS: I was feeling like a fake, and also I was feeling like, how could anybody accept me if they knew me? WINFREY: Uh-huh. Were you scared? Were you scared of what this day would be? I know anytime I’ve ever made an announcement or kept a secret and then made the announcement, the fear is that you’re going to wake up the next day and nobody’s going to like you anymore. The whole world’s going to turn against you. Mr. LOUGANIS: Well, that’s what the fear was, I mean, the reason for the secrets, and now the rest of my life is about not having secrets and living my life openly and honestly. WINFREY: So watching Greg on that show that day was a 12-year-old boy named Michael. Take a look at this. MICHAEL: When I was 12 years old, I knew I was gay. I was really struggling to try to come to terms with it, and the household that I grew up in was a very conservative type of household. I was definitely afraid if my parents found out I was gay they were going to just disown me. WINFREY: Please welcome Greg Louganis. MICHAEL: When I saw Greg Louganis on “The Oprah Show”, I was blown away. I could not believe that here was an Olympic gold medalist speaking his truth to the world about who he really was. After the show, I still knew that I wasn’t going to be able to come out anytime soon, but it still planted the seed within me. I had come out my freshman year of high school. My mother sat me down and asked me did I think I was gay, and in that moment, I thought about Greg saying that he was going to be living a truthful and honest life, and I knew that I had an opportunity to mirror that, so I told my mother, “No, I don’t think I’m gay; I know I’m gay.” MICHAEL: Today I live in Hawaii. I have a great partner. If you would have told me as a 12-year-old boy that this would have been my life, I would never have believed it. I want Greg Louganis to know that him coming out and writing his book was instrumental in forming and shaping the person that I am today. WINFREY: Wow. So you were a 12-year-old boy. MICHAEL: I was 12. WINFREY: What’s a 12-year-old boy watching “The Oprah Show”? MICHAEL: I wasn’t allowed to watch “Oprah.” I wasn’t allowed to watch a lot of television, but my parents worked long hours. They were self-employed, and so they would usually come home about 5:00, and you were on about 4:00, so I made sure that between 4:00 and 5:00, I was watching your show, and in between commercials, I was running to make sure that the car wasn’t pulling up to the driveway. WINFREY: Such a sweet thing. So you’ve grown up with me. Thank you so much. MICHAEL: I have grown up with you. WINFREY: So interesting. I always think that the real point of celebredom, of being known, is that you can use your life in a way to help other people, and I think that Greg Louganis being on the show that day, I felt that when he was here. You know, I always feel when somebody is doing something in earnest, that other people will receive that. I didn’t know that it was a little 12-year-old boy. MICHAEL: Absolutely, absolutely. WINFREY: Did you ever reach out to him or write him or want to say to him? MICHAEL: Actually it’s funny. I’ve written him several e-mails over the years, and I’ve never gotten a response. I know he’s really busy, but I just wanted him to know that he really–as a young boy, he really impacted my life. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: I still love it when that happens. Mr. LOUGANIS: Oh, hi. WINFREY: Oh, hi. Mr. LOUGANIS: Hi. WINFREY: Hi. Nice to see you again. Mr. LOUGANIS: Good to see you. I’m here. I’m here. WINFREY: So when you were here that day, 1995, obviously that was a big deal. Mr. LOUGANIS: Yeah, but it was really scary because, you know, coming forward and wondering how people will react, and it was just such a relief, you know, that I could live my life. WINFREY: So when you left here, did it feel like relief? Did it feel like, “Okay, that’s done,” or did it feel like? Mr. LOUGANIS: Oh, my god, I mean, it was unbelievable because people were coming to me and saying, “You saved my life.” You know? And I just, like, because that’s what we’re trying to do is make a difference, you know, by just being who we are. WINFREY: What does this feel like for you? MICHAEL: It’s just so surreal. I just–I remember what it was like when I was 12. I was on my elbows watching the show, and I just–I had never seen another gay person. I thought I was the only one. Mr. LOUGANIS: And the thing is, I mean, you know… MICHAEL: I did. I did. Mr. LOUGANIS: I mean, I know that, you know, that sense of despair. You know, I felt that. I mean, I went through the whole, you know, suicide attempts and all that stuff because who could love me? You know, I felt damaged. WINFREY: So at the time that you did it, you weren’t doing it because you wanted to save other lives. Or were you? Mr. LOUGANIS: I mean, I’m doing it for myself but also doing it for others. If I could reach out and touch somebody, you know, and give them strength to know that they’re not alone. WINFREY: So Greg, as he said, has been living with HIV for more than 20 years, and he’s now 50–the five-o word. Mr. LOUGANIS: Yeah, I know. WINFREY: So how is your health? Mr. LOUGANIS: Good, good. WINFREY: So do you take a combination of drugs of every day still? Mr. LOUGANIS: Yeah. Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. Mr. LOUGANIS: I took ’em just before I came on, you know. I wouldn’t wish my drug regimen on anyone. I mean, I’m managing it, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. WINFREY: I got you. Mr. LOUGANIS: Because some of the therapies are pretty severe. WINFREY: How far do you think we’ve actually come in this conversation about being gay, in particular, since 1995? Mr. LOUGANIS: I think we’ve come a long way. I mean, we really have come a long way because we have more images out there. WINFREY: Don’t you think that the more images, I mean, the one that comes to mind right now, you know, is “Modern Family” where you have a gay couple, so having more people who represent being gay in such a positive light, don’t you think that that’s really helped to break down the images? Mr. LOUGANIS: Most definitely. There are those images that are out there, and, you know, people living their lives openly and honestly, you know. It’s important. MICHAEL: You really have paved the way for a lot of us. Mr. LOUGANIS: Oh. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. Be right back. Fantastic. WINFREY: Coming up–in 21 years, I thought I had heard it all, but this is something new. There was an audible gasp when the audience heard their story. AUDIENCE: Oh. WINFREY: We just had to bring them back for an update. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] JENNY: My name is Jenny, and I am from Spokane, Washington. I watched the episode where a woman came out to her husband as a lesbian, and hearing Oprah say to this woman, “You are now living your truth,” made me realize I needed to live my own truth and come out to my boyfriend as a lesbian. And your show and more specifically this woman’s story gave me the courage to do that, and I’ve never looked back. WINFREY: Wow. Jenny was one of the hundreds of viewers we heard from after a show we did in 2006 called “Wives Confess That They Are Gay.” When the story you’re about to hear initially unfolded, there was an audible gasp from the studio audience. I was a bit stunned myself. Take a look. CHRIS: I just thought Joe was just the cutest thing and I, you know, I thought this is what I want. I want a family. I got pregnant just, like, two months after the marriage. Joe always made me feel absolutely loved, and we absolutely trusted each other. WINFREY: But five years into the marriage, Chris realized something had changed. CHRIS: Oprah would call it an “aha” moment. I had an “oh, no” moment. WINFREY: She kept her secret from Joe for two years. So what’s the secret you were hiding? CHRIS: That I was a lesbian. WINFREY: And how long had you known that you were a lesbian? CHRIS: About 5 years into the marriage, I realized, when I had the “uh-oh” moment. WINFREY: Yeah. You called it “oh, no.” I call it “aha.” You had your “oh, no” moment. JOE: One of the main reasons, I believe, that I supported Christine through her coming out is because I myself was gay. AUDIENCE: Oh. WINFREY: I will have to say, in 21 years, this is the first time this has ever happened to me. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: Their 14-year-old son Alex spoke candidly about the challenges of having a gay mom and dad. ALEX: The hardest part was in school, dealing with all the kids, and them making fun of me. They gave me hurtful nicknames like “faggot” or “queer” and stuff like that. It made me feel like an outsider, like I wasn’t normal. WINFREY: I think this is really courageous of you, because being 14, for me it was a really awful time, and kids can be really terrible when you’re at this age. So what do you want to say to all the people who are watching? Because you’re right–lots of people are going to see this. ALEX: I just want people to know that don’t be afraid to be yourself. Don’t feel like you have to keep everything a secret and, like, locked up. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. WINFREY: What do you want to say to all those people who are calling you names? ALEX: You guys are really insecure. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: Good. Good for you. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Welcome back the whole family. Chris and Joe and their two sons Alex and Miles, who are now 19 and 17, respectively. So the joking didn’t stop just because you were on the show, or did it? ALEX: No, the joking didn’t stop at all. It actually just kind of picked up from there. WINFREY: Yeah, I would think so. Yeah. And how did you handle it? ALEX: I took it with a grain of salt. You know, I mean, I found that turning it into humor, you know, flipping it around back on them made it easier for me. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. So you were 12 at the time, and now 17. How has having two gay parents affected you? MILES: It’s affected me in great, great ways. I have lots of people that come up to me and ask me questions, like, on how to come out to their parents or advice and stuff like that. WINFREY: So what happened when you guys–I’ve said for years I’d love to have a camera in the car. What happened when y’all went home? [LAUGHTER] CHRIS: We were like gay rock stars. WINFREY: How is the relationship between you and Joe today? CHRIS: It’s fine. Yeah. I’d do anything for him. He knows that. WINFREY: How do you figure this happened, though? I still, you know, I remember that day in 2006, and so you’re gay and you’re feeling like–you were talking about a fluidity in your sexuality, and you were thinking that you might be, and neither of you had said it to each other? JOE: Right. CHRIS: Yeah. WINFREY: How does that happen? JOE: The great secret. Just tuck it away and don’t deal with it. CHRIS: But since that show, I’ve come to find that I think it’s way more common than you think. Way more common than you think. Two gay people coming together and just kind of knowing that they have this fluidity, you know? WINFREY: Yeah. So I remember a show we did with gay families a while back, and I’ll never forget what one of the children said when I asked how she felt about having gay parents, a gay mother, and she said, “My mom loves me. My mom loves me.” And in that moment–that was such a long time ago–I realized that, really, that’s all that really matters. Is that what you guys think, too? ALEX: That’s what it comes down to in the end. Love is love. If you’re gay, you’re still going to love your children the same amount as if you were heterosexual. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. CHRIS: Love is all there is. WINFREY: Love is all there is. When we come back, we’ll meet a viewer who was watching Chris and Joe’s story from home back in 2006 and didn’t believe a word of it. But there’s a twist. Stay tuned. That’s great. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] [MUSIC] WINFREY: Chris, Joe, Alex, and Miles are certainly one of the most modern families I’ve ever met, and after seven years of marriage, Chris and Joe realized they were both gay. They were originally on the show in 2006, and a viewer named Jodie was watching at home in New Jersey in utter disbelief. Look at this. WINFREY: Did you ever in any way suspect that your wife might be gay? JOE: No. JODIE: When I was watching the show, I remember thinking, “How did they not know? How did they go through the marriage without knowing that they were gay?” I didn’t buy it. WINFREY: As a trained psychologist and certified life coach, Jodie had talked to many people, straight and gay, about their relationships. She’d been happily married to Charlie for nearly 10 years. They had two young girls and a house in the suburbs. JODIE: That was the dream I always imagined for myself. I thought I knew myself so well. WINFREY: Then, at a professional retreat, she met somebody who turned her world upside down. JODIE: It was sparks. It was something I had never experienced before. WINFREY: And that someone was named Christine. Jodie struggled for months to make sense of her attraction to another woman. In 2009, Jodie saw another show we did about sexual fluidity, and that’s when it all clicked. DOCTOR: …that there’s a range that represents how much you are attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex. JODIE: I was like, “Oh, my god. This is me.” I had been struggling with this label “lesbian,” “not lesbian,” and I realized that it’s more fluid than that. WINFREY: Jodie confessed to her husband that she had fallen in love with Christine. She couldn’t believe his reaction. CHARLIE: I said I was happy for her. And then I told her that I was also attracted to men and that it was something that I wanted to explore. WINFREY: Well, doesn’t that just beat all? [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: Now, what’s got me going here is Jo–okay, Jodie and Charlie are here. Jodie, you’re a psychologist. JODIE: Yes. WINFREY: And a life coach. JODIE: Yes. WINFREY: You’re coaching other people who have these issues. JODIE: Correct. Well, not quite the same issues. WINFREY: But other problems, you know, confronting who they really are, all that stuff. Hello? And you never thought you were gay? JODIE: Never. WINFREY: I don’t get it. JODIE: Me neither. WINFREY: And so you were watching them on the show. So you’re watching them on the show. And you’re thinking what? JODIE: I’m thinking, how did they not know? How did they go through this life together and not know each other was gay? WINFREY: And then you go on a conference. Just tell me how that happens. You go to a conference, and you are happily married at the time? JODIE: Yes. Mm-hmm. WINFREY: Happily married. And you go to the conference. JODIE: Out of nowhere, I have feelings… WINFREY: That’s got to be some damn conference, I got to tell you. [LAUGHTER] JODIE: You have no idea. And I had never felt this way about another person before in my entire life. WINFREY: What kind of feelings? JODIE: Butterflies. Like, I wanted to be near her but was scared to be near her. It was all very confusing. WINFREY: When did you tell Charlie? JODIE: It was a couple months later. WINFREY: All right, so when she told you, what’d you think? CHARLIE: I said it’s okay. You know, I support you and I’m happy for you. I was. WINFREY: That’s an unusual response. [LAUGHTER] JODIE: Try being in that moment, Oprah. WINFREY: Yeah. And then did you tell her immediately? CHARLIE: In the same conversation. WINFREY: In the same conversation. Yeah. Had you ever suspected that he might be having thoughts about men or anything? JODIE: No. WINFREY: How long had you had these feelings? CHARLIE: For a long time, but I had never talked about them with anyone. I just- -I couldn’t accept them, and I was confused because I also had feelings for Jodie, and I really–it just confused me more than anything. And so–yeah, it took me a long time accept that, but I’ve been in a relationship for the past two years with an amazing man–Michael, who’s here. Right there. JODIE: Hi, Michael. WINFREY: And then–that’s Christine. CHARLIE: Yeah. JODIE: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: Okay. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: And so you’ve now been in a relationship, and now where are your children? How are your children handling it? How old are your children? JODIE: They’re four and seven, and I think their transition has been what would be expected of any children who are going through a divorce. They’re doing really well right now, and we try to give them the language to understand what’s happening, that mommy fell in love with Christine and daddy fell in love with Michael, and how lucky are you to have so many special people in your life? WINFREY: I think it’s actually easier at four and seven. What do you guys think? ALEX: Yeah, the younger, the better. WINFREY: Younger the better? Yeah. I think it’s a lot easier than being a teenager, for god’s sake. I think 14 is the hardest. Yeah. CHARLIE: Yeah, that’s got to be hard. We’re very lucky to live in a pretty diverse community, and so… WINFREY: So thank you all for being here. So interesting. What I love is that you were sitting at home looking at them in disbelief saying, “Nah, can’t be true,” and then–how long afterwards, before you’re at that conference? JODIE: It was about a year. WINFREY: A year later you’re at the conference going… JODIE: Like, how the hell did I get here? WINFREY: Yes. We’ll be right back. Be right back. Thank you. Interesting. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Coming up, he risked his throne by announcing to the world that he was gay, and now–are you still living at the palace? What happened after his parents the king and queen saw that show. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] DARRYL, HOUSTON, TX: Hi. My name is Darryl, and I’m from Houston, Texas. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to watch the episode about living on the down low, living a secret life. So I decided to sit down with my parents and my friends and let them know and come out that I am a black gay male. The episode was life-changing. My relationship with my parents, my family, and my friends is a lot better because of that episode. JOEY, ST. LOUIS, MO: Hi, Oprah. I’m Joey from St. Louis, Missouri. I watched a show that you did on National Coming Out day. I had never seen anything like that in my entire life. I was 19 years old, living in a small town. I was profoundly depressed about being gay. I thought I had no future. That show gave me the strength and courage I needed to become proud and happy about who I am. WINFREY: Well, I’ve certainly seen a shift in acceptance and tolerance in this country over the past 25 years–we were talking about that with Greg Louganis earlier–but in some countries, the act of homosexuality is still punishable by law. In 2007, we met an Indian prince who risked his throne when he revealed to the world that he is gay. WINFREY: Prince Manvendra of Rajpipla, India, stepped out of the closet and into a firestorm of controversy when he announced to the world he is gay. The townspeople were outraged. PRINCE MANVENDRA SINGH GOHIL: The community was so agitated, so furious that their prince has brought shame to us, shame to the family. WINFREY: And the queen was livid. She took out an ad in the newspaper announcing she was disowning her son and threatened to hold anyone who referred to the prince as her son in contempt. What did you think when you read in the newspaper that your mother had disowned you? PRINCE MANVENDRA: I wasn’t shocked. Actually, I don’t blame her. I blame her ignorance, as most of the Indians do, about homosexuality. They are very, very insensitive, unaware about the whole issue. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Your father believes it’s something that you can change, that you’ll just change your mind one day and say, “Yes. Not gay.” PRINCE MANVENDRA: He’s actually worried about my future, the insecurity, so he always feels that, well, I can change. WINFREY: Because being homosexual in your country is punishable by going to prison. PRINCE MANVENDRA: Being homosexual is not punishable. The homosexual act is punishable. WINFREY: Okay. The act is punishable. Okay. Do you regret coming out? PRINCE MANVENDRA: Well, no. I don’t regret. In fact, I’m very happy. I’m working for the gay community in India, especially on HIV/AIDS prevention work amongst the gay men, and if I could save even one life, I would be the happiest man today. WINFREY: Prince Manvendra is the world’s only openly gay prince, and he flew from India today to be with us. The last time we spoke–hi. Welcome back. Nice to see you. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: The last time we spoke, your mother the queen did not approve of your homosexuality and had stopped seeing you. What’s the latest? PRINCE MANVENDRA: Well, the latest is that she still doesn’t talk to me, but she has now given up hopes that she can ever make me straight. WINFREY: Really? PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yeah, and she doesn’t interfere into my activities and doesn’t create any obstacles anymore. So it’s fine with her. WINFREY: Are you still living at the palace? PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yeah, yeah. We still live at the palace. We still bump into each other. WINFREY: You’re at opposite ends of the palace. PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yeah, at opposite ends. Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. And your father? PRINCE MANVENDRA: My father is very cool. In fact, he came out with a newspaper interview recently and said, “I acted in anger.” And it was society’s pressure, which made him take the stand of publicly disowning me, and he even attends my foundation, Lakshya Trust, activities. WINFREY: Are you happy that you came on this show in 2007? PRINCE MANVENDRA: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Who wouldn’t be happy? WINFREY: Yeah. Really? I was worried about what would happen to you after you– no? PRINCE MANVENDRA: No. Absolutely no. I mean, I would say, even amongst the royal families who initially were homophobic, after they watched me on your show, they realized that, “Yeah, there is some substance to the prince. Oprah has not called him all the way to Chicago just for nothing, you know?” PRINCE MANVENDRA: So your invitation has opened gates to a lot of the homophobic society in changing their mind-set about me and about being gay. WINFREY: So when you were here in 2007, a gay pride parade in Mumbai would have been unthinkable, but I hear that that’s now changed. PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yes, yes, exactly, not only just Mumbai, but we have prides happening other places in India, as well–in Delhi, in Kolkata, in south India– and I think it’s on the rise now. WINFREY: Would you say that that’s because of you? PRINCE MANVENDRA: And it’s because of you, too. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Okay, but would you say that it’s because you and your organization have been able to influence the way people open their minds and their hearts to accept others? PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yes, yes, yes. Exactly. WINFREY: Is it still very difficult for other gay men–we won’t even talk about gay women, but other gay men because you were a prince, and with that, obviously, comes a lot of access and power and authority–so is it still hard for an ordinary citizen to come out and say that they’re gay? PRINCE MANVENDRA: It is hard, but I’m noticing that they are now getting comfortable to this sometimes. The mainstreaming has started happening, and a lot of guys want my help to come out to their parents, and a few of them have even come out to the society. WINFREY: Wow. In 2007, homosexual acts were illegal in India and punishable by 10 years to life in prison. PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. WINFREY: Is that still the case? PRINCE MANVENDRA: No. I mean, again, I would say I would thank you for that, that after you called me to the show and the way the publicity happened internationally–my invitations to other countries, especially to Australia, to Brazil, to Paris–that had made India try and realize that, no, they had to accept the fact that homosexuality is… WINFREY: So they took the law off the books? PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yes. I never expected that this will happen in my lifetime. WINFREY: That is amazing, high-five ourselves for that. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: That’s really good. That is really good. Yeah. Well, thank you, prince Manvendra. Thank you. As I promised, I’m going to come to India. PRINCE MANVENDRA: Yeah. You promised, and you have to come. WINFREY: Yeah. Save a room for me at the palace. PRINCE MANVENDRA: Sure, sure. WINFREY: We’ll be back. Thank you. Thank you. WINFREY: Coming up… KIM: I felt–it just–it blindsided me. It just came out of nowhere. WINFREY: This mom could not accept that her daughter is gay. Now see how she’s changed. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] WINFREY: So Amanda was just 10 years old when she told her mother she was gay, but her mother dismissed it. Seven years later, something happened that shattered their relationship. We first met Amanda and her mom in 2005–it was that long ago–on a show we called “When I Knew I Was Gay.” Take a look. AMANDA: So the night that my mom found out that I was a lesbian, um, was probably the most horrible night of my entire life. WINFREY: When Amanda was 17, Kim was shocked when she walked into her daughter’s room and found her with another girl. KIM: It was like walking into a nightmare. AMANDA: She said that I was going to hell. I did feel like she had ripped the soul out of my body. WINFREY: Kim forbade Amanda from seeing her girlfriend, and the fight between Amanda and her mom raged on, so Amanda went to live with her grandmother. AMANDA: I hated her with everything–every ounce of my being. And to be around her was only reminding me of the pain that she had caused me. WINFREY: Are you still angry? AMANDA: I love my mom, but I still have very–I still have remnants of some anger. WINFREY: What are you angry about? AMANDA: I’m angry about–I thought to myself, you know, “Here I am–I’m telling you who I am,” and I felt like she had just spat in the face of this truth. I just felt like I was not a whole daughter to her. WINFREY: Yeah. AMANDA: So. WINFREY: And that would be true. KIM: It would be true because I felt–it just–it blindsided me. It just came out of nowhere, and I didn’t think it was completely… WINFREY: But it really didn’t come out of nowhere. She told you when she was 10. KIM: Right, but I had really kind of forgotten about that. I just–not forgotten, forever forgotten, but I just… WINFREY: Didn’t want to believe it? KIM: Right. It’s hard as a mother. I mean, I have no problem with people being gay. I have had gay friends for years. It’s a non-issue to me. When it’s your daughter, it just–it just hits home. WINFREY: Because you have to let go of the dream? KIM: Right. WINFREY: I love that. Welcome back, Kim and Amanda. What happened, Kim, after that show? KIM: Well, after the show, I just, you know, Amanda–well, immediately after the show, I got to go up into the offices and meet Libby. WINFREY: Libby Moore is my chief of staff. And after the show, you know, I felt like I had done all I could do, and I asked Libby to speak to Kim and Amanda because I wanted you, especially, to see that Libby was a happy and successful gay woman just like your daughter, and that you could let go of your dream of her and let her live her own dream. And so two hours later, I look in Libby’s office. You all are still in there. So, what did Libby say to you? KIM: She just shared her life with me, how it was. She felt like I reminded her of her mother. And she told me that, you know, her life was spinning out of control, and until she came to terms herself with who she was, that’s when everything just made sense for her. So to me, to speak–she was just so forthcoming with information, and I had never talked to a gay woman. I had men friends that were gay that–they’re great, but I had never really had that type of a conversation with anybody, and it just meant the world to me. WINFREY: To talk to Libby? KIM: Oh, yeah. WINFREY: Libby, what did you say to her? LIBBY: I basically told her my whole coming out story. And I related–watching the in-studio feed in the office, I related to what Amanda was saying because you reminded me so much of myself when I was your age. And you reminded me so much, Kim, of my mother because I came out–I knew my whole life that I was gay. I came out when I was 27. At that point, I weighed 205 pounds. I was drinking a lot, eating a lot because I couldn’t come to terms with my truth, which is that I was gay and I had known my whole life. So I shared the whole coming out story with them, and I was very fortunate that my parents and siblings said, “I love you no matter what, and we want you to be happy.” But a little later, my mom said, “But let’s just keep it within our family.” And I said, “I understand. You’re educating yourself, I’m educating myself, but I am not going to live a secret life.” WINFREY: But I know your mother, and she’s so supportive now. Really. LIBBY: Right. She is very supportive. WINFREY: Really. Bravo to her and your whole family. LIBBY: Yeah, it’s true. And so I shared that with them to say, “Look, I’m in a fabulous relationship, I have an amazing job with Oprah Winfrey. You know, my life is fantastic, and only because I came out and I’m myself. Only because of that and only because I had the support of my family and friends.” AMANDA: I was thinking, when this was happening, that the only reason this dialogue was going so well is because she could assume both my identity and my mom’s identity and speak in both of our language because, you know, up until that point, neither one of us was communicable to each other. I didn’t understand a word she was saying. We were speaking the same language, of course, but it didn’t come across to me as something that I could internalize and understand until I heard it from a woman who could relate to my mom on this particular level, who was also gay. So I was thinking–I was just like, “You know, clearly, she doesn’t have some ulterior motives here. She’s a lesbian, too. She’s on my team. So maybe she’s got some points.” WINFREY: Right. AMANDA: You know, “This is not a hostile force. I think that we can move forward here.” KIM: And to me, it was great because I was dealing with–you know, Amanda was young and she was super angry, like she just said, and, you know, just to have someone who was closer to my age that wasn’t the pissed-off volcano teenager, and it just put things into perspective. WINFREY: But isn’t it interesting–I remember thinking in that moment when I said that to you on the air, it’s about you giving up the dream, I really thought that this was more about you and what you had in mind for your daughter. And you know that wonderful Kahlil Gibran poem from “The Prophet” about “our children come through us. They’re not of us.” You have to let your children come through and then be who they were meant to be, and you had sort of gotten locked there somewhere, right? KIM: I think so. I think so. And, you know, it takes time. You know, you have to just change gears, and I don’t want Amanda to be anybody other than who she is. I am so proud of her, and I love her so much, and I wouldn’t change a thing about her. But it just–it took me a little time. WINFREY: But that is such a profound thing you just said. And I hope every parent out here who will hear from their child or children at some point that, you know, they’re gay–you want your children to be who they really are. That’s really what you’re here as a parent to be. You just said that. That was so profound. KIM: That’s exactly how I feel. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] WINFREY: So how’s the relationship now? AMANDA: Well, I really could not be happier. You know, in this particular capacity, I feel like we have reached an optimal level of growth and understanding with each other. And immediately after the show, we sat in the limo, and my mom sort of had this cathartic experience where she was crying and she was apologizing, and I think she was really responding to how high-intensity the show was. It was a lot of emotions and I mean, we had just–from every angle, it was so much stimuli to take in at once. And so I was a little bit cautious in terms of accepting that as exactly where she was feeling at that particular moment in time. But it was absolutely the beginning of what I’d describe as an evolution of change in how she started relating to me as a lesbian daughter. At one point, she stopped asking me if I wasn’t sure, that maybe I would graduate and then have a little hetero come my way. It helped me to flip it around on her and ask her, “Mom, are you sure you’re not gay?” Because you might be. You know, you might be. KIM: Right. I totally get it. I do. AMANDA: I mean, I’m not… WINFREY: You might be after today’s show. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: All I got to say is, go to that conference she went to. KIM: That’s right. WINFREY: You never know. Yeah. AMANDA: That’s right. And so, when she would sort of–she would be a little bit on the defensive and say, “Of course I’m not gay. I love your father so much.” And I’d say, “Mom, this sort of response–this is how I feel when you ask me, ‘are you sure you’re not straight?’ I’m positive. I am so positive.” KIM: And I want her to find someone that loves her and adores her and she can have a great life, you know? She deserves it. She deserves to have that happiness. WINFREY: And you will be happy when she’s happy? KIM: I will be happy. WINFREY: When she’s happy? KIM: When she’s happy. AMANDA: Twice the chance of grandchildren. Think about that. WINFREY: Twice the chance of grandchildren? AMANDA: Two ovens. WINFREY: Two ovens? KIM: Well… AMANDA: That’s what I think. WINFREY: That’s another show. AMANDA: Yes, probably. WINFREY: Thanks for being here, you both. Thank you. That’s good. We’ll be right back. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] WINFREY: My first guests shocked the athletic world when one of them announced just last year that he is homosexual. Bob Paris is an internationally known bodybuilder. He was Mr. Universe and Mr. America in 1983. Bob and Rod say that they should have the right as citizens to be legally married in the eyes of the state. BOB PARIS: All we’re asking for are the same rights that everyone else is guaranteed. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: Bob and Rod broke up shortly after that show, but Bob eventually did get married and has been with his husband Brian for nearly 14 years. They live in Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal. Over the past 25 years, we have seen some progress. Five states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages. Congress just repealed the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban. And in 2003, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision to decriminalize homosexual acts in this country. We’re not talking about India, we’re talking about our country, 2003. But we still have a long way to go. Hopefully, today we helped open the doors just a little wider. Thanks, everybody. [APPLAUSE]

37 thoughts on ““Coming Out” On The Oprah Show: 25 Years of Unforgettable Guests | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

  1. One thing am sure is when black Africa rise again i promise, it will not be any so called black people will be accepted back

  2. It's soooooo simple!…. Being a straight woman if I don't like anyone questioning my sexuality, then I don't have the right to question anyone elses! Why aren't some idiots capable enough to implement this basic principle in their life! Have some life and let others have it too!!!

  3. Oprah was woke way before the term. She always always wanted gays to be seen as people and not just as sexual being. She allowed her platform to show spirits, hearts, and souls of gays. Post more these shows. I love Oprah for this!!!!

  4. So that couple where the wife goes off for a conference and finds that woman…if it was a man that she had butterflies for and wanted to leave her husband, how would it have gone…somehow being "suddenly" gay and wanting to change their partners is acceptable by everyone. Interesting!!

  5. 😩 I still have not seen or heard a realtionship couple who is a female n male n both bi sexual n have kids they own in the mix sounds crazy I no

  6. I am so happy that I'm a white male, married to a white woman and having white straight children!

    Seriously! Wtf is wrong with everybody these days!
    Greetings from the Netherlands!!!

  7. I remember watching these shows about being gay while still being in the closet.. it definitely helped me accepting myself more. I love how Oprah was so ahead of her time addressing these issues.

  8. If what ur doing is not hurting u or other people then its ARlIGHT… why do people get triggered..There are more serious stuff out there to worry n get conversations started like murder, terrorism, paedophiles, drugs etc…pple these pple aren't harming u or themselves….Sky daddy believers are even worse…Xtians do the most unchristian things ever…

  9. Is this particular show was broadcasted on October 11, 2019 or is it an old episode Re-uploaded??? I loved the show..

  10. Hi Oprah…..dunno if you ever read these comments…not confident even your minions do ….sure as hell no body who ever tries to communicate anything via official channels that you of course OWN, ever gets any answers. Ah well, maybe that's only true to say of SAns. .
    I recall feeling great HOPE that our National broadcaster ( SABC) were flighting your shows, albeit during the " housewife hours" and albeit they were broadcasting shows years old and long outta date.
    I recall thinking….this is a taste of what our darker brethren need. Being as we had scant years of Mandela influence sorely required.
    Hardly had you created the Dr Phil show , another GREAT boon I thought….to school our idiots toward right-thinking….and the whole shebang just went silent.
    What was THAT all about, Oprah????
    Don't say money…..well….we all know it was all ABOUT money…..but….didn't you have enough by then?
    I'd sure like to know how you justify whatever decision was made.
    People are dying here in SA,everyday ( 57/100thou) , it's become a reign of (t)error that worsens everyone's life, and yet you do not bestir yourself .

  11. Being gay or bisexual is natural. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. As long as you are with someone of legal age, I say there is nothing wrong with it πŸ’œπŸ˜Š

  12. but the ppl coming out are obviously gay. I mean they say "I'm gay". I'm like……okay…..aanndd….i know that…its pretty obvious…lol next case!

  13. What a great episode…β™₯οΈπŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆπŸ‚ Happy National Coming Out Day to all!! #ProudlyGay

  14. I love Oprah, you are a treasure to the world, you have changed and continue to change the world daily with important issues that matters.

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