lundi, juillet 17, 2006

Oprah and Gayle Deny Gay Rumors

So in this month's issue of O Magazine, Oprah and Gayle deny the rumors that they're involved in a lesbian relationship. I've actually heard that rumor for quite some time but I don't believe it. True, Gayle and Oprah have a phenomenally close friendship that even seems to surpass the usual dictates of friendship and trangress into something that looks and feels like intimacy but I think its possible for women to create that kind of spirtitual or platonic intimacy that does retreat into a sexual relationship. I can see some of you shaking your heads now but I will continue to contend that the rumors are fallacious.

However, Gayle is quoted as saying, "The truth is, if we were gay, we would tell you, because there's nothing wrong with being gay,". This, I don't believe. I believe that if Oprah were a lesbian, she'd be closeted. Would Oprah's legacy be the same if she were "out"? Would she still be touted as the spiritual guru and pop culture innovator she is today if she were a lesbian? In today's climate, I'm not sure if her celebrity status or cultural impact would be the same. As fabulous as Oprah is (and she's never looked better), I believe that her mostly white, female audience sees her as a mammy figure, an asexual caretaker that soothes them when they feel fat or ugly and solves their problems from a cheating husband to memories of child abuse. She is committed to her longtime partner Stedman who is probably the least threatening Black man her audience has ever seen, content to stay in the background and play an amalgam of roles, the most important being Oprah's mate.

If Oprah was a lesbian, howver, her sexual dynamics would change. She'd no longer be in the stereotypical role of asexual mammy but move into another stereotypical role -- the sexually aggressive lesbian. White women, especially white women of a certain socio-economic class, have historically had their bodies vigourously protected (albeit through enforced and reinforced dictates of sexism) from "colored" influences. If Oprah was a lesbian, white female sexuality would be threatened by virtue of Oprah's race and power. I contend her imagery wouldn't be the same and it may threaten her power base. Which is why if Oprah was a lesbian and Gayle was her partner, they'd keep it quiet. Think about Black celebrities whose sexuality has been questioned for quite some time (i.e. Tyler Perry, Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah). How would their stardom be effected if they were "out"? Moreover, I think Oprah's position as spiritual leader would be threatened. How many openly gay Black spiritual leaders can you think of? I can't think of any.

I feel like American society hasn't progressed far enough for a person's sexual preferences to not impact their stardom. Now, you may say what about Rosie O'Donnell or Ellen deGeneres. Well, both women are white (which implicitly means less threatening), comedians, and intentionally dull down their sexuality, creating an asexual appearance. They have amassed fame and fortune but that too is contained. Both women couldn't get a decent film role to save their lives and they specialize in making people laugh (while often making self-deprecating jokes in the process).

So are Oprah and Gayle gay lovers. I don't think so. If they were gay lovers, would they be out? I don't think so either.

gravid -- adj: Being with child; heavy with young or eggs; pregnant

"When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take - choose the bolder" --- Ezra Pound