Berkus opens up to Oprah on how he gained acceptance as he came out to his family
Design star Nate Berkus says gaining his father’s trust and respect as he explained that he was born gay – and it wasn’t a choice – changed their relationship and helped him move forward in his life.
“I asked my father: ‘Do you trust me? Do you respect me? Do you think I’m smart?’ He said, ‘Yes,’ ” Berkus, 41, tells Winfrey.
“I said, ‘Why would I choose to make my life more difficult – why would anyone choose to make their life more difficult? Do you think I would choose to have this hair? Do you think that I would choose to be 5’9″? I would have been 6’1″. It’s the exact same thing. The truth of the matter is being gay is the way I was born. I believe this to the core of my being.’ ”
Berkus continued: “I said, ‘Dad, we are never going to have a real relationship if you don t believe me.’ He said, ‘If you say you are born this way, and you didn’t have a choice, then we are good.’ That was really the moment. Then, I knew if I had this base level of respect that I could move forward.”
The Chicago-based interior designer, whose latest book is The Things That Matter, rose to national prominence after he was invited in 2002 to do a makeover on a space for The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he become a frequent and charismatic guest. He was later given his own program, The Nate Berkus Show, which aired from 2010 to 2012.
Berkus also speaks to Oprah about the death of his longtime partner, Fernando Bengoechea, who was swept away from the beach resort where the couple was vacationing during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
The show, Oprah & Nate Berkus, The Things That Matter, will air on Feb. 10 and Feb. 17 on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.