Nate Berkus Does Your Coffee Table

Oprah’s home design guru Nate Berkus prepares to hypnotize you on the forthcoming August issue of OUT magazine in which he mainly discusses how he found himself on Oprah and what he’s got in the wings in terms of his design career. But he does briefly mention his January 2005 appearance on the show shortly after his partner Fernando Bengoechea was killed in the Southeast Asian tsunami:

Nate_berkus“After the show, I got a tremendous amount of letters and e-mails from kids across the country who were coming out. They said that watching the way my relationship with Fernando was presented on the show gave them the courage to say to their friends and parents, ‘You know what, I’m gay just like him and I want to have what he had.’ The most touching correspondence I received came from an 18-year-old who said, ‘I’d never seen a gay couple’s love story presented like that on TV before. Now that I’ve seen it, I realize I’d be wasting a lot of time if I didn’t get out there and try to find it for myself.’ It was amazing, and it makes me really proud, because somebody somewhere was watching the show and it changed how they viewed themselves and their own opportunities to live in a successful gay relationship…I wasn’t concerned about presenting my relationship with Fernando to the world. I wanted people to know about our life and what I lost.”

No groundbreaking revelations on whether or not another significant other has entered the picture, but those of you with fantasies of setting up house with Berkus should be pleased he has at least make it to your coffee table.

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Nate’s Long Good-bye [tr]


  1. Michael says

    “They said that watching the way my relationship with Fernando was presented on the show gave them the courage to say to their friends and parents….”

    He must be talking about when he finally started saying that Fernando was more than a “friend”. When that whole tsunami story broke Nate was deep in the public closet and refused to say Fernando was his lover. At the Oprah site if you mentioned Nate being gay or that Fernando was more than a friend the post was removed. Then the day he finally went on the show the relationship was talked about.
    Why didn’t OUT ask him about that?

  2. JerzeeMike says

    That was the one and only Oprah show I ever watched. I remember crying like a baby watching Nate poured his heart out remembering Fernando. The religious zealots in this country would have the rest of the world think gays cannot form meaningful, committed, life-long relationships. Nate showed the world the glaring reality that we all deserve someone in our lives to love, and love us back. WE LOVE YOU, NATE!!

  3. giovanni says

    Well the fact is eventually he did talk about it – and that is what matters – we are all in the closet at one time or another though most of us don’t have to come out publicly and under such tragic circumstances. I saw that show and though it was incredibly sad, I thought Nate handled it well , I doubt I would have been able to hold it together despite having the benevolent Oprah by my side.

  4. gabe says

    I don’t think anyone who watches Oprah thought Nate was ever straight. He never denied he was gay but he wasn’t trumpeting it to all and sundry either. He was totally out in Chicago. Totally.

  5. joeyjoey73 says

    Just because Nate didn’t wrap himself in rainbows and pink triangles every time he appeared on Oprah does NOT mean he was in the closet. I am proudly gay but I don’t feel the need to make every professional encounter privy to my sexual preferences. If asked, I would never deny, but my professional life is just that…my professional life. And I don’t think it’s a gay thing, either. I know plenty of striaght men and women who choose not to “let it all hang out” about their personal lives while in the workplace. I commend him for wanting the focus to be on his designs, which is the reason he is on Oprah in the first place.

  6. Bradlum says

    Nate rocks.

    The decision of when, where and to whom we live out, is each person’s own to decide, edit and refine.

    While this 40 yo gay came out at 19, each person’s path is his own. And forget about the “celebrity has a responsibility to come out” bullshit.

    Unless someone is living one way – and doing and promoting another way – then it’s none of the world’s fucking bizness.

    Sometimes quickly…sometimes slowly.



  7. clinton says

    I don’t understand why some people think if your gay, you must make a profession being an “out”, “proud”. I left Dallas because I didn’t want to make a career out being homosexual.

    I completely agree with what T.R. Knight said, “being gay is one of the least interesting things about me”.

    Nate didn’t betray anyone by not being super homo on tv.

    That said, I would love to see him frolic naked with HGTV’s David Bromstad.

  8. soulbrotha says

    Not to belittle his loss or anything but the coverage of Nate’s story just got on my last nerve. The Oprah Show made it into such a Lifetime Television moment as if nobody else had a story to tell or lost a loved one (except for the supermodel whom she interviewed. I guess its only tragic when it happens to beautiful people.) And I agree with Mike, how does one keep referring to their lover as “friend” during a life or death crisis? Wouldn’t your fear make you say “my man” regardless of WHO was listening? The whole thing seemed so carefully put together and trite. And if Nate was a fat old bald guy, would he have gotten the same treatment? Would anyone have cared or even remembered this story?

  9. Leland says

    No one ever suggested that Nate [or Anderson Cooper or Mika or fill in the BLANK] should “wrap himself in rainbows and pink triangles”! You porch faggots always resort to the absurd when defending your own or one of your own’s cowardice. They and you have a constitutional right to such cowardice but shut the fuck up with such hyperbole.

    “Benevolent Oprah”???? Her fat ass!!!! Talk about selective perception. Thank God some emerging gay kids saw through the packaging on that show. I found it heartbreaking, too, but I was also INFURIATED AT THE SAME TIME at how careful they were being not to say the “G word” or “lover” or anything else that made it crystal clear what they were talking about in front of an audience made up primarily of people with their heads in the sand.

    “Partner,” as he and Oprah repeatedly referred to Fernando, and “love” which was also referenced, can mean different things. At least one woman viewer at the time posted on the big O’s Website that she was so sorry Nate lost his “BUSINESS partner,” emphasis mine.

    And you “don’t think anyone who watches Oprah thought Nate was ever straight”??? Fucking please, Mary. Have we been watching the same show? Even NOW, every time he comes on, Oprah still verbally dangles him in front of the women in the audience, who still scream and squeal because of it, as if he were a cute AVAILABLE STRAIGHT guy, thus effectively shoving him back in the closet over and over [and dishonoring Fernando’s memory at the same time]. Bitch, if you’re so pro-gay why don’t you then add the punch line, “Sorry, ladies, he plays for another team,” or some other soft sell punch line—no rainbows and pink triangles required—and move on. And while you’re at it, Ms. O, stop bothering to insist over and over that you’re not gay yourself. Who are you? Barack Oprah? What next? A press conference to deny you had an AIDS test with Gail!

    I DO have far more respect for Nate than I once did because, a few months ago, he chose to bring up in far clearer terms Fernando’s death when he was doing a makeover of the room of a child who had died for the still grieving family, including a very young brother. He briefly talked about knowing what they were going through in trying to both honor and remember and yet move on with their lives. Most would say he did not need to do that [and Oprah probably wet her girdle], but he did and I applaud him for it. Yes, give the man credit for growing [and the difficulty of doing that while under the celebrity spotlight] but do NOT rewrite his OR O’s history.

  10. yeahisaidit says

    …saying you are gay does not mean one has to “wrap themselves in rainbows and pink triangles,” further it doesn’t mean you are exposing your the specifics of your “private life,” (two totally different things) …it means you are attracted to members of the same sex, that is all…the specificity of WHOM, WHAT, WHY, WHERE, and WHEN is NOT disclosed in the admission…yes, it make take some courage to state, “i’m gay…,” and no, it’s not manditory, but please stop marrying it to the stereotype of someone
    who may be way over the top, flamboyant, and out of control with an agenda to cram down someone’s throat (no pun intended) …plus, by saying such, it doesn’t mean you are automatically betraying the details or descretion of some vigorious “private life” (that, trust me, many of us who have no problem saying we are gay publically are not even HAVING…sigh) past the point of indicating your attraction to the same sex if you do so, and thankfully we seem to be on the road where this admission that is becoming next to nothing…Jeeez!

  11. soulbrotha says

    Dennis did you even READ the beginning of my post or did you just zero in on particular words so that you could act high and mighty?

    My first words were “Not to belittle his loss”. So clearly his pain was never in question. So please save your snippy comments for applicable posts.

  12. Giovanni says

    “Benevolent Oprah?”

    Um…yes! I respect and appreciate your passion Leland however I can’t say I share your animosity for Oprah but a chacun son gout. Carry on…

  13. Jerry says

    I’d thought we’d established months ago that Nate was with Jeffrey Brezovar, the sperm donor for Camryn Manheim’s baby. Now, that’s not to say that Nate couldn’t have been going behind Jeffrey’s back at some point, or that they could have split up, but Brezovar had been a new development since the tsunami.

  14. Jordan says

    Leland, you are hilarious (and right!). I never really thought about Oprah in that light before, but she really isn’t as open-minded or accepting on her show as she pretends to be, but you know she slants her content to her target demographic of white, middle-class, (certainly clueless) housewives.

    I always thought Nate grated the nerves myself, but agree he HAS grown somewhat since the tragedy, but think he should stand up to the big “O”, but like everyone, he is obviously in awe and scared of her and her financial and commercial success.

    He is just her gay lapdog, nothing else…you can tell by the way she treats him.

  15. Sean R says

    Nate’s story (I’ve seen a couple of editions of Oprah on this side of the pond) demonstrates how coming out is still a fraught area of sexual politics and dilemmas about disclosure are ongoing. Nate’s public working through of his grief and coming out is illustrative of the age.

    On the issue of Oprah: I appreciate how in a rather conservative culture, she has to treat a fine line in her programming. But I do recall having seen episodes about ‘when did you know’, and about men on the ‘down low’ – and so I think some of the quips about her are a bit unfair. She might not be quite a gay diva she might become, but she is certainly supportive. I guess I’m suggesting that coping with any controversial issues on her show demonstrates that for all her wealth and so on, she is also quite vulnerable to the ratings, and criticism etc.

    ust keep an eye out for “Out” in the church that is “Borders” book store [newly opened in Dublin].

  16. says

    Besides being one of the few instances of a gay-related angle to the tsunami tragedy, the matter-of-fact way in which Oprah presented it to her audience was incredibly impressive and moving. It makes it all the more odd, then, that she would devote her June ’07 issue to Dina McGreevey’s homophobic rant.

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