By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com March 16 2002 12:00 AM ET
Rosie O'Donnell's much-talked-about interview with Diane Sawyer, in which the entertainer and talk show host came out as a lesbian, aired Thursday on Primetime Thursday. "I don't think America knows what a gay parent looks like--I am the gay parent," O'Donnell told Sawyer in her first in-depth interview about her sexuality. When she was 18, O'Donnell said, "I remember driving my car when I got my permit. I was alone, and I was like, 'I totally think I'm gay.' Like I said it out loud in the car."
O'Donnell said she had relationships with both men and women in the ensuing years, although she is now in a "committed, long-term life relationship" with Kelli Carpenter, her partner of about four years. "It took me a while to understand and to figure out all the things that made me me, where I was most comfortable, who I was, and how I was going to define my life," said O'Donnell. "And I found the coat that fit me." The comedian also discussed the challenge of gay life. "I don't think you choose whether or not you're gay. Who would choose it? It's a very difficult life. You get socially ostracized. You worry all the time whether or not you're in physical danger if you show affection to your partner. You're worried that you're an outcast with your friends and with society in general."
O'Donnell has adopted three children: Parker, 6; Chelsea, 4; and Blake, 2. Part of her reasons behind coming out have to do with her desire to help overturn Florida's ban on gay adoptive parents. "My Lord, if somebody came to me now and said...'We're going to take [Parker] now because you're gay,' my world would collapse. I'm lucky to have adopted my children, not in the state that I live, Florida. I'm lucky, because otherwise I would be in danger of losing my children." She added, "I know I'm a really good mother. I know it, I'm a really good mother. And I have every right to parent this child. It takes a lot to become a foster parent....You have to really want to save a child who others have deemed unsavable. And for the state of Florida to tell anyone who's willing, capable, and able to do that, that they're unworthy, is wrong."
Asked about President Bush's statement that children should be adopted only by a man and a woman who are married, O'Donnell replied,"He's wrong. President Bush is wrong about that. And you know, if he'd like, he and his wife are invited to come spend a weekend at my house with my children. And I'm sure his mind would change." She also told Sawyer, "I think if I could take a pill to make myself straight, I wouldn't do it, because I am who I am, and I've come to this point in my life, and I'm very happy."