Source: Screencap/GLAAD/YouTube

Oprah Tells Story of Her Brother Lost to AIDS at GLAAD Awards

Emell Adolphus READ TIME: 2 MIN.

In an emotional speech during the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday night, Oprah shared a part of herself she doesn't usually get to show: concerned sister.

As reported by NBC News, Oprah was in the house to collect the Vanguard Award for LGBTQ allyship, and she took the opportunity to honor her late brother, Jeffrey Lee, who died from AIDS in 1989 when he was 29.

"Growing up at the time we did, in the community that we did, we didn't have the language to understand or to speak about sexuality and gender in the way that we do now," said Oprah. "At the time, I really 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."

Additionally, Lady O reflected on how much using "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to amplify LGBTQ+ voices and inform about the HIV/AIDS had an impact on her life.

Particularly, she recalled holding a town hall in 1987 after a community pool was shuttered because a man with AIDS took a swim.

"They shut the whole pool down and the town turned against him because he'd gone swimming with his sister, and it caused such an uproar that there was rampant misinformation and misguided fear," she said. "We took our whole show there, and we brought a medical expert ... we brought the facts and tried to erase some of the biases."

She then recalled appearing on Ellen DeGeneres' sitcom, "Ellen," in 1997.

"I got a call from Ellen asking me to play the role of a therapist on her show, as she came out and became the first gay lead character on a U.S. network television show," she recalled.

But in Oprah's words, her support has not stopped and will continue to "support and produce projects centering LGBTQ storylines" and "hire queer and trans filmmakers to bring authentic characters to the screen."

She added, "That's what I wish my brother Jeffrey could have experienced – a world that could see him for who he was and appreciate him for what he brought to this world."

Watch her full address below.

by Emell Adolphus

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