Oprah shares moving Pride Month message honoring her younger brother who died from AIDS

Oprah shares moving Pride Month message honoring her younger brother who died from AIDS

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Oprah Winfrey has posted a moving Pride Month message in which she talks about her late, younger brother, Jeffrey. 

“It was 35 years ago that my younger brother, Jeffrey Lee, died from AIDS,” she began her message. 

“He was 29-years-old. The year was 1989 and the world was an extremely cruel place, not just for people suffering from AIDS, but also for LGBTQ people in general,” she continued.

“I often think if he’d lived, he’d be so amazed at how much the world has changed, that there actually is gay marriage and a Pride month.

“How different his life might have been had he lived times, in a world that saw and appreciated him for who he was rather than attempting to shame him for his sexuality.”

Oprah, 70, wearing a white top with a rainbow across the chest, continued, “I believe that every single person has the right to love who they want to love and be the person they most want to be.

“My hope for you is that you are living a life that feels authentic to you and that you have the support around you to do so, no matter your sexuality.

“Whether or not you’re celebrating Pride this month or always, I wish for you the continued freedom to rise to your truest, highest expression of yourself as a human being.”

“Beautiful, beautiful men”

Many welcomed Oprah’s words.

“I think about all the friends I lost in the 80s,” said actor Holly Peete. “Beautiful, beautiful men, so talented, so much to offer and just gone… Oprah is right it was such a cruel time. Our President wouldn’t even say the word AIDS… It was a terrible time.”

Film director Nathan Williams said, “Thank you Oprah for always being such a fervent and enthusiastic ally to our community. Through your show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, many people were able to see the humanity of the LGBTQIA community for the first time.”

One woman added, “My son is gay. We left the church because we were told our son would go to hell and we were wrong loving him and supporting him being gay. I don’t think that is how Jesus would have treated us.”


In March, Oprah received the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Awards in Los Angeles. There too she honored her brother, saying, “Many people don’t know this but, 35 years ago, my brother, Jeffrey Lee, passed away when he was just 29 years old from AIDS. 

“Growing up at the time we did, in the community we did, we didn’t have the language to understand or speak about sexuality and gender in the way we do now. And at the time, I didn’t know how deeply my brother internalized the shame that he felt about being gay. I wish he could have lived to witness these liberated times and to be here with me tonight.

“All the years of the Oprah Show, for me, were about sharing stories that helped people be their authentic selves… and I know that is the truest form of what it means to be free, to have personal freedom, to be able to fully be who you are.”

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