Gayle Talks Gay
BY Jon Barrett
July 15 2010 3:40 PM ET
We all, whether we’re gay or straight, get hunches about our coworkers. And after working as an editor at Oprah Winfrey’s O at Home magazine for a couple years, I had a certain feeling about editor-at-large Gayle King: that she was an incredibly open-minded and openhearted woman. Although many of the short conversations she and I shared before or after editorial meetings revolved around politics (Gayle sometimes e-mailed me YouTube clips of Barack Obama speeches to convey why she was such an ardent supporter of the then–presidential candidate), we never talked about gay issues. Still, I wasn’t surprised to hear her come out in favor of marriage equality last week on her eponymous Sirius/XM radio show. I did, however, want to hear more about her support. And I thought talking to her about it might — if I had the nerve — give me a chance to ask her about those pesky rumors about her relationship with Oprah. So I gave her a call and, what do you know? She called back.
Gayle, it was great to hear you speak out so forcefully in support of gay marriage last week. It wasn’t a surprise, though, of course.
Was it a surprise to anyone, really? I just find that it’s hard to be tolerant of people who don’t, in my opinion, get it. You know? It’s just, to me, so wrong that this is even still an issue in 2010.
Did anybody disagree with what you said on the show?
Not to my face.
So nobody called to complain?
Oh, no, no, no! Because I make my opinions very clear on this issue. I’ve told the story many times about my daughter, Kirby, when she was in elementary school and Oprah had done the Ellen show [in 1997], where she played the therapist and got terrible, terrible mail about it. Like, How could you? And, The Bible says… So I was explaining to Kirby for the first time that some people think [being gay] is wrong but there really is nothing wrong with it. I was explaining boys and boys and girls and girls and it’s all OK. And then she went to a friend’s house, and the friend’s mother was talking about Ellen and saying, “Oh, I just think it’s disgusting!” And Kirby, who was in sixth grade, said, “I don’t understand, because my mom says there’s nothing wrong with it.” This woman was mortified, wondering, What are you teaching your children? And I, on the other hand, was equally mortified and wondering, What are you teaching your children?
When Kirby came back and told me what had happened, I immediately said, “Kirby, she is wrong. Just think about it. Does it make any sense to you?” And Kirby said no, that it didn’t make sense. But that woman was very angry.
You know, Jon, it’s heartbreaking to me that someone would try to dictate who you can love and how you can love. It doesn’t make any sense. You hear about all of these horrible stories about people who are in relationships and then, when the time comes and they lose their loved one, they have no rights. Or they have no rights when they’re applying for a job or applying for health insurance — when they’ve been in longstanding partnerships. I don’t know. I don’t have the tolerance for intolerance. Not on that issue, I don’t.
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