Oprah Winfrey says her best friend Gayle King is not her lesbian lover, despite rumors that have floated around for years, and the talk show host adds that she is still involved with longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham.
Winfrey, 56, and King, a 55-year-old a SIRIUS XM satellite radio show DJ, met in the 1980s while working at a Baltimore television station. They recently went camping together in Yosemite National Park in California for a television special and joked about the tabloid reports.
"I'm not a lesbian," Winfrey told famed journalist Barbara Walters in a recent interview. "I'm not even kind of a lesbian. And the reason why it irritates me is because it means that somebody must think I'm lying. Why would you want to hide it? That is not the way I run my life."
Winfrey and Graham, a 59-year-old businessman, entrepreneur and speaker, have been a couple since 1986 and were engaged in 1992, but never married, ABC said, adding that they have not appeared in public together often. Winfrey said he is still the man in her life and called him her "lover", "partner" and "mate".
"Every time we showed up in public... there'd be another exploitive story ... so I made a conscious effort around 2003, 2004, to pull back on my public appearances with Stedman," she said. "I do not know of another man on this planet ... who could have lived this life with such dignity, with such grace and such respect and humility in it. And still hold his own and be his own."
Meanwhile, King, she said, is "the mother I never had," "the sister everybody would want" and "the friend that everybody deserves."
King has not commented. She is set to host a new television program on Winfrey's OWN channel that is scheduled to launch next year.