Oprah Talks to Rosie O'Donnell About Reentering the Spotlight
Rosie: Correct. And then I tried to show my gratitude to her by helping her start the cruise company [R Family Vacations, which launched in 2003 and runs cruises for gay and lesbian families]. Like, "Here's your company, we'll do the gay family cruises!" But then suddenly she was working a lot. I remember joking about it: "Yeah, this is a great life decision I made. I could be going, 'Honey, I'm hemorrhaging from my leg,' and she's like, 'That's nice, I'm booking a penthouse—can you wait a second?'"
There's also the fact that when we got together, Kelli was only 30, and it was her first long-term relationship. Before me, she was not out to her family. I kind of forced them to accept that she was gay.
Oprah: Were you always out?
Rosie: To everybody in my personal life, yes. The only people who didn't know were the audience. But they kind of knew, because Kelli sat next to me at the Emmys.
Oprah: Before you started the show, was there a discussion about whether you should be public about it?
Rosie: Before I signed the deal, I sat down with Warner Brothers and said, "I want you to know that I'm gay—and I don't imagine that I would talk about it." Remember, this is pre–Will & Grace. Pre–Ellen DeGeneres coming out.
Rosie: Yes. This is 1995, okay? The culture wasn't talking so much about gay anything.
Oprah: I understand. We've come a long way since then. And, speaking generally now, you seem to have come a long way, too. You seem more "you" than you've ever been. In fact, part of the reason I think this partnership of ours is now possible is that you've reached a new place in your journey.
Rosie: Totally true.
Oprah: When I was at your house in Nyack, you told me that getting some hormones had changed your life.
Rosie: Yes. I had, like, zero estrogen. And since I got some, I've been able to function more normally. I've stopped being so angry. You know, I think I had a lot more rage than I was aware of. But I've gotten back access to my other feelings. I'm not cut off from my emotions anymore.
Oprah: So it helped with the rage.
Rosie: The rage has gone away. Even with something like the Casey Anthony trial—normally I would obsess about that. I would be so furious. But I didn't even go near it. There's been a healing.
Oprah: Did getting hormones also help with what you thought was depression?
Rosie: A lot. TM [transcendental meditation] also helps: just being still and resetting my internal hard drive twice a day.
Oprah: You seem more accepting of yourself than you have been in the past.
Rosie: Yes. Of other people, too. As you say, I'm trying to stop expecting the past to have been different. And I've learned the necessity of not "writing stories" about other people before I know them.
Oprah: So you really are in a new place.
Rosie: I am. And part of it is the divorce.
Oprah: Did it free you in some way?
Rosie: It has freed me from what I thought was the prescription for happiness: Get married, have children, stay married. When my kids used to act out, I'd joke, "This is not in the script!" But when Parker was 12, he said, "News flash, Mom—we don't have a script."
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