If you didn’t catch the farewell speech for Oprah’s final episode, you can either skip to 1:08 ion the video above and hear her thank you to gay viewers or you can sit down like a grateful human being and take in all two minutes and 48 seconds of her love.
Maybe you never tuned into Oprah, maybe you even hate her a little for being so… damned… nice. Make no mind, her goodbye will still make you misty (don’t cry, girl. Oprah loves you).
There, did you have a good “ugly cry”? Well good. Now we’re done let’s ask ourselves, in The Oprah Winfrey Show’s 25-year run, what did she do for us gays? Let’s take a look.
She hosted the 1997 episode when Ellen DeGeneres came out. She had Chaz Bono discuss his transition, Meredith Baxter explain closeted life on Family Ties, had Ricky Martin talk about being a quasi-bisexual DILF, and Chely Wright discuss what it’s like to be more famous for your lesbianism than for your music.
Just kidding, Chely. They actually had a really excellent talk about Wright’s closeted homophobic taunts and heterosexual dating habits.
In 1995 she dove into Greg Louganis‘ HIV. She talked to a closeted daughter whose mom discovered her gettin’ lesbo-freaky. In 2007 she had gay Indian Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil discuss his HIV work and his psychotically un-accepting parents. She even once had a husband-wife couple simultaneously come out on her show—we know, raight? Cray cray!
And y’know what, in all instances Oprah was like, “It’s really about honoring the truth of who you are, and if you can’t do that, you die a little death every day…your willingness to be truthful about who you really are opens up enormous possibilities.”
And that’s probably the best thing she did for us. She exposed viewers of all ages to queer issues in smart, sophisticated ways that gave “a voice to those that might not otherwise be heard.”
She didn’t frame our issues, she didn’t condescend, or tell us what to think. She simply let us tell our own stories and then shared her thoughts. And in listening and supporting her gay and lesbian guests, she also showed countless others how to treat us as well.
So do we owe her? Yeah. How do we repay her? We dunno. Did anyone happen to DVR her Favorite Things episode?
[UPDATE: Our apologies for using the incorrect pronoun with Chaz! The individual responsible has now been personally slapped by Gayle King.]