updated 07/18/2006 AT 8:20 AM ET
•originally published 07/17/2006 AT 6:35 PM ET
Oprah Winfrey is setting the record straight about her relationship with best friend Gayle King: Nope, they’re not gay.
In the August issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, Winfrey writes that she knows there’s speculation about her and King – but insists they’re simply the best of friends.
“I understand why people think we’re gay,” she says in an excerpt of the article provided to the Associated Press. “There isn’t a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women. So I get why people have to label it – how can you be this close without it being sexual?”
King, who is an editor at O, also contributes to the essay, and says she and Winfrey would tell the public if they were actually a couple: “The truth is, if we were gay, we would tell you, because there’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
Winfrey echoes that sentiment saying, “I’ve told nearly everything there is to tell. All my stuff is out there. People think I’d be so ashamed of being gay that I wouldn’t admit it? Oh, please.”
Winfrey, 52, and King, 51, say their friendship of 30 years includes “four-times-a-day phone calls.” The pair first met in 1976 when King was a production assistant at Baltimore’s WJZ and Winfrey was an anchor there.
“Something about this relationship feels otherworldly to me, like it was designed by a power and a hand greater than my own,” Winfrey writes. “Whatever this friendship is, it’s been a very fun ride.”
Winfrey lives with her boyfriend of 20 years, Stedman Graham. King is divorced and has a son and a daughter.