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Oprah has a new essay for O Magazine about her long term relationship with Stedman Graham. I know a lot of people believe the “Oprah is with Gayle and they are an undercover power couple” conspiracy, but I do not. As Kaiser often says, I think that if Oprah was gay she would tell us and be the lesbian icon we need. Gayle and Oprah are BFF goals, and the more we get to know Gayle the more their deep friendship makes sense. We do not know much about Oprah’s boyfriend, Stedman, and that may be part of the reason people have a question mark over their heads about his relationship with her. Oprah is telling us about him though, and it sounds like he’s been there for her, quietly behind the scenes, for decades. She focuses more in this essay about her reasoning for not getting married though. Oprah’s knows it’s work to be married and she’s been focusing on her business.
1986… I had seen a particular man around town, but he was always with the same girlfriend, so I didn’t pay much attention. One day, though, we were both visiting a mutual friend who was ill and later died of AIDS. The guy with the girlfriend had come to the friend’s home alone, and so had I. We left together, and I asked if he wanted to get a beer. (Yes, I drank a lot of beer then and wore cowboy boots every day.) He said he didn’t drink. (Still doesn’t—not one sip of nothin’ alcoholic since I’ve known him.)
I thought he was nice enough, but I wasn’t that impressed. He was polite, yes, and kind. The sort of guy who sits with an ailing friend. Tall and handsome, for sure. But actually too handsome, I thought, to be interested in me.
I figured he must be a player. So did all my producers. They warned me not to get involved with that Stedman guy.
Aside from his appearance, they knew nothing about him. But anybody that good-looking driving a vintage Mercedes merited suspicion.
So I proceeded with caution, even with a friendship. It wasn’t until months later, when I learned he’d broken up with his girlfriend and had been inquiring about my dating status, that I gave him a serious thought.
Anyone who’s ever met him is always amazed by what a genuine gentleman he is. He’s so positive. Wants the best for me and everyone he knows. Truly wishes people well. Doesn’t curse. (I’ve been known to.) Never have I heard him gossip or say a negative thing about anyone. (I have, plenty of times.)
For years, there were hundred of tabloid stories, weekly, on whether we would marry. In 1993, the moment after I said yes to his proposal, I had doubts. I realized I didn’t actually want a marriage. I wanted to be asked. I wanted to know he felt I was worthy of being his missus, but I didn’t want the sacrifices, the compromises, the day-in-day-out commitment required to make a marriage work. My life with the show was my priority, and we both knew it.
He and I agree that had we tied the marital knot, we would not still be together.
Our relationship works because he created an identity beyond being “Oprah’s man” (he teaches Identity Leadership around the world and has written multiple books on the subject). And because we share all the values that matter (integrity being number one). And because we relish seeing the other fulfill and manifest their destiny and purpose.
Oprah is successful, but more than that happy and fulfilled, beyond most people’s wildest dreams. She’s a billionaire with a worldwide empire and access to the most influential and knowledgeable thought leaders and spiritual gurus. She has chosen not to get married and that works for her! We’re taught that marriage should be our ultimate goal as women, that’s what the majority of children’s shows portray. When women and girls have actual starring roles it’s as lovelorn princesses who need saving. Oprah is one of the best examples of a woman who made her own fairy tale and who is living her dream every day. Her man is secondary to her business goals and she will tell us about it. Also I love how Oprah makes it clear that she didn’t snatch Stedman away from his girlfriend.