Oprah Winfrey pays tribute to gay brother who died of AIDS complications

Chat show host Oprah Winfrey has shared an emotional tribute to her brother who died of an Aids-related illness in the late 1980s.

She included the tribute in a post on Oprah Daily on Wednesday (5 June). The series is accessible either on Instagram or behind a paywall on her website.

Marking the beginning of Pride month, Oprah opened up about her younger gay brother, Jeffrey Lee, who died 35 years ago.

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

“I often think if he’d lived, he’d be amazed at how much the world has changed, that there is gay marriage and a Pride month. How different his life might have been had he lived.”

Oprah paid tribute to her brother who died a the height of the Aids crisis. (Getty)

Everyone should have the right to “love who they want” and to “be the person they most want to be”, she added.

The star previously paid tribute to her brother at the GLAAD Media Awards in March.

After accepting the Vanguard Award, given to allies who have helped advance LGBTQ+ rights, she said: “Growing up at the time, in the community we did, we didn’t have the language to understand or to speak about sexuality and gender in the way we do now.

“At the time, I really didn’t know how deeply my brother internalised 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.”

Elsewhere in her speech, Oprah reflected on how she used her talk show, which ran from 1986 to 2011, to help people be more of their authentic selves.

“I knew then, back in 1987, that I wanted – and needed – to do more, so I did,” she said. “This is what I know for sure: when we can see one another, when we are open to supporting the truth of a fellow human, it makes for a full, rich, vibrant life for us all.”

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