Long before Ellen, Will & Grace or Modern Family, it was Oprah (and before her Donahue) and the genre of TV she popularized, that played the critical role bringing gays into the mainstream. Here she is way back in 1989 (before most of my readers were even born) discussing gay marriage.
Oprah really is the most influential woman in the World because virtually no single living person has done more to change the culture of America, and by extension, the World. It sounds bad to say now, but back in the 1980s people weren’t used to seeing a black looking black woman on TV. What few black celebs there were, were often mixed race or skin bleached, so to see an authentic dark skinned black woman with African features on TV was transformative. One Oprah fan told me that she didn’t watch for years because she thought “she is black, what kind of show can she have?” A TV station told the legendary King brothers (Oprah’s syndicators) that they could get a better rating with a potato than by putting a black woman on TV.
But if being overweight and hardcore black wasn’t taboo enough, Oprah shocked the world by discussing topics as forbidden as gay marriage, infidelity, food addiction, and above all, sexual abuse, leading millions of victims to recovery.
Even though at age three, Oprah was a preacher prodigy, raised to believe gays would go to hell, she slowly abandoned this dogma for a more inclusive spirituality that millions of her fans embraced.
She was smart enough to know that as an overweight dark skinned black woman, she faced discrimination in the same way gays did, and with 20th century nutrition increasing the World’s brain size and IQ, an awakened public would soon embrace moral progress, causing gay suicide rates to plummet.
As Martin Luther King once observed, the arch of the moral universe is long, but bends towards justice.
Like all revolutionary leaders, Oprah got on the right side of history, way ahead of her time, just as she had with the Iraq war: