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Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Oprah and Girlfriends

I caught a few minutes of the recent interview where Oprah denied she was a lesbian and reiterated that her best friend Gayle was just that – her best friend.

I can empathise. I bet most of us can. I have a best friend who also happens to be female. We have known each other for years. She is like the sister I never had and her family has become my extended family. She lives in a different part of Australia but we keep up with phone calls and emails. If I could pick anyone in the world to spend time with, she would be that person.

Awhile ago I was talking to a man I know. He is gay and happily partnered. I mentioned I was going to see my friend the following weekend and he winked at me and intimated that my friend and I obviously had a long running sexual relationship. I was totally taken aback. I didn’t realise that having a close female friend would automatically make people think I was gay – it kind of soured my friendship with her in my mind for awhile. Perhaps I should be thicker skinned, perhaps I shouldn’t care what others think, but I’m not and I do.

So I empathise with Oprah. It must be extremely difficult to want to be with your best friend, but at the same time have to watch your every move just in case the media are watching. I empathise with everyone who has a best friend of the same sex who is now cautious about getting too physically close to them in case their closeness is misconstrued.

It all reminds me of just how influenced we are by first impressions and stereotypes. If we see two women or two men together, perhaps hugging or holding hands, they are automatically gay. If we see someone who is poorly dressed or groomed we probably think they are from a low socio economic background. If we see a blonde we might assume they are stupid. If we see someone young with a baby we perhaps think of them as irresponsible. We don’t stop to think of what each of their back stories might be.

As for me, I now try to ignore first impressions and stereotypes. I now make it a game to think of what each person’s real back story might be.


  1. Somehow I've a sneaking suspicion it doesn't bother Oprah or Gail much. Not the first time, won't be the last.

    Yeah.. it helps to grow a thicker skin, Cassandra. I had a gay friend who would of loved to hook up with me, it was a going joke between us. 'If you ever leave your husband', she'd say...

    Kudos on the long standing friendship you have with your friend, don't let anything sour that. It's hard to come by.

  2. It is rather disturbing that Oprah's being given such a hard time. Girlfriends have been girlfriends (platonically) since the beginning of time. We hug, kiss on the cheek, travel together, and share our deepest, darkest secrets. I don't get what all the fuss is about. It's a fact of life. xo

  3. I can't imagine what it would be like to live my life under a microscope like that. I'm not sure how I would react if I thought people believed I was a lesbian. That said though, I don't think I'd change my relationship with good friends because of how others might think.

  4. Enjoy your relationship with your friend Cassandra. Your gay pal made too much of an assumption there, judging you by his own way of life.

    I have a wonderful network of girly mates who I truly love to bits. Never thought of getting it on with any of them though! That would be a waste of good shopping/eating/drinking time!

  5. Hugging is so in at the moment (I work at a girls' school) that an awful lot of people must be being misunderstood ...

  6. I've had my BFF for over 20 years, though I love my husband I'm pretty sure I'd pick her to be standed on a desert island.

  7. Yeah, I found that interesting that she got so uptight, but now that I think about it, I probably would have too. My best friends are female, and I love them. But I am a married woman. WHen did we have to defend ourselves so much? Sheesh...

  8. While it is hard to feel too sorry for one of the richest women in the world, I do get your point. If anything I feel badly for her husband. Ah, but not too badly, they live a pretty good life. It all seems so silly to me. I mean really who cares anyways? Leave the woman alone right?

  9. Hi! I read your previous post about Oprah and your country. I don't know if I'll ever be able to visit, but just reading your blog and other blogs from Australia I feel like I know a bit more about it and the wonderful people who live there. Hopefully she will improve the economy, but frankly I'm a bit tired of her! She lives in my home town now, but I'm sure will be heading to California in the future. I remember when she first started out in a little early morning show called "Good Morning Chicago"...and look at her now. As for the girlfriend thing, people will think what they want and we should do what you're doing, just don't judge what we truly don't know to be true!

  10. You are right people are quick to judge!

  11. Jamie - I think I do have to grow a thicker skin and I won't give up on my friendship!

    Robyn - it is a fact of life and I hope it stays that way!

    Joy - I don't think I would like to live under a microscope either.

    Leah - I will continue to enjoy for sure!

    Fran - ah yes, girls' schools must be the scene for plenty of hugs - I went to one a long time ago!

    Mrs Tuna - Well, I don't have a husband so if I have to go to a desert island I'm definitely taking my friend!

    Kazzy - it does seem as if we have to defend ourselves more and more...

    Getrealmommy - Lol - I hadn't even thought of Stedman! Poor him...

    yaya - You should visit! Come on down!

    gayle - they are and I hope I can stop myself from judging quickly.

  12. Thanks for stopping by today.

    It makes me sad to think that a close friendship with a female would be so quickly perceived as a gay relationship. If we can't enjoy the intimate yet platonic relationships we have with our BFFs, whoever would we talk about girl stuff with?

  13. Most of my friends that live in town are gay/lesbian/bisexual. I'm the only straight one I think left, all my straight friends have gotten married and moved to larger cities. I have no issues hugging my female friends who are lesbian in public.

    You know the rumours for Oprah do not hurt her any, as long as she's making headlines that's all that matters.

    But, I think we all fall into some sort of stereotype way of thinking, even when we try not to. It's human nature to judge, even when we do our best to be extremely open minded; there is always something that will catch us up.
    The world would not be so gossip hungry if we were as a society as open minded as we wish we were.