“Our intention is – and has always been – to help people see things differently by giving a voice to those that might not otherwise be heard.”
With those words, talk show host Oprah Winfrey began her show on Tuesday, the subject of which was “25 Years of Gay Issues on The Oprah Show.“ Among other guests, the show featured Olympic gold-medal diver Greg Louganis, who came out to the world as a gay man living with HIV, on Oprah back in 1995. Tuesday’s show united Louganis with another gay man named Michael, who was 12 years old at the time Louganis came out. Michael told Oprah and Greg that it was Louganis’ 1995 appearance on the show that gave him the courage to live his own life openly as a gay man. Nearly 16 years later, Michael is 28, happily partnered and living in Hawaii.
During Tuesday’s episode, Oprah pointed out that The Oprah Winfrey Show – now in its 25th and final season – has produced more than 120 groundbreaking shows devoted to telling the stories of gay and lesbian people. Included among them was a 1997 episode in which Ellen DeGeneres told the world that she is a lesbian. That particular show, Oprah pointed out, was the first of seven to be honored with a GLAAD Media Award.
“…that’s the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” Oprah spelled out for her viewers.
(For more information on the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards, including nominees and ticket information for the ceremonies in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, please click here.)
With her own production company, the number one talk show for 25 consecutive seasons, a namesake magazine, radio channel and now her own cable television network, Oprah Winfrey has been dubbed “The Queen of All Media.” Her influence is capable of turning a book into an instant best seller, and yes, even changing the hearts and minds of her large audience.
“For all of these years, after all of these shows, viewers from every walk of life told us again and again that our candid conversations had an impact,” said Winfrey.
“When my 21-year-old daughter came out and told me that she was gay, I was completely in shock,” said Kim. ”I turn Oprah on and there’s Chely Wright, telling her story about coming out. It was the turning point for me in being able to accept my daughter for who she is.”
Though her show has undoubtedly helped to foster much understanding and acceptance of gay and lesbian people since it went national in 1986, Oprah also acknowledged during Tuesday’s show that “we still have a long way to go.” She concluded Tuesday’s show with the following:
“Over the past 25 years, we have seen some progress. Five states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages…Congress just repealed the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban…but we still have a long way to go. Hopefully today we helped open the doors just a little wider.”
You certainly did, Oprah. GLAAD thanks you and your team at Harpo Studios for 25 years of unwavering dedication to telling the stories of gay and lesbian people from around the world. We look forward to all the important stories you will continue to help us tell on OWN: The New Oprah Winfrey Network and beyond.
Coincidentally, Oprah isn’t the only one celebrating a 25th anniversary this year. Founded in 1986 – the same year The Oprah Winfrey Show went national, GLAAD has been working for 25 years to amplify the voices of the LGBT community. By empowering real people to tell their stories and holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, GLAAD ensures that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media to promote understanding, increase acceptance and advance equality. Held in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the GLAAD Media Awards bring together members of the LGBT community, straight allies, media professionals, celebrities and movement leaders at ceremonies that fund GLAAD’s work to share stories from the LGBT community. We hope you’ll make plans to join us at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards. Ticket information is now available for our ceremonies in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.