Nate Berkus tells Oprah he was born this way

Oprah Winfrey’s longtime friend sits down for a revealing ‘Super Soul Sunday’ interview

Yahoo Contributor Network

Talk about chicken soup for the Sunday soul! Oprah Winfrey reunited with one of the most beloved guests from her past talk show life, when interior designer Nate Berkus joined the Queen of Talk for a one-of-a-kind "Super Soul Sunday" sit down that included a look at his personal life and at his book "The Things That Matter."

The designer turned daytime TV host was an "Oprah Winfrey Show" regular, creating 127 room makeovers in eight years. But, like several other Oprah regulars (everyone from Dr. Phil to Dr. Oz), the talk show bug bit him. "The Nate Berkus Show" aired for two seasons, before being canceled last summer.

On Sunday, Nate was back on TV to talk to his mentor about the things in his life that really matter -- a list that has changed considerably since a life-altering tragedy nearly 10 years ago.

Oprah touched on the talk show topic, but not before going into detail about her pal's personal life. That included getting the scoop about how the 41-year-old came out to his family about his sexuality when he was a teenager.

Nate said that when he was a teen, it was his stepfather that first discovered his secret, after finding a letter from his then-boyfriend. But his stepfather kept his findings to himself for three months before telling Nate that he knew. He assured the teen that his silence was proof that it didn't change the way he felt about him.

Nate's father had a much harder time accepting the news, to the point that the two had to have a heart-to-heart talk to clear the air.

"I said, 'Dad, we're never going to have a relationship -- a real relationship -- unless you believe me, and I know that you believe me and act accordingly.'" Nate said. "I said, '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". Like, it's the exact same thing as my being gay.'"

"The truth of the matter is... that being gay is the way that I was born," Nate told Oprah. "I believe this to the core of my being. I would never choose something to make my life complicated."

Nate also talked about the most important thing he owns: Two hand-woven portraits given to him by his partner, Fernando Bengoechea, right before the photographer perished in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The couple had been vacationing in Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit, and Nate literally felt Fernando being swept away from him. The tragedy changed how he felt about everything in his life.

Of his failed talk show, Nate revealed that he was "enormously relieved" when it came to an end. (Apparently he should have listed to Oprah, who tried to discourage him from a five-day a week talk show schedule.)

"I'm ambitious and felt it was an opportunity of a lifetime," he said, but admitted that the grueling daily schedule overwhelmed him.

"I felt exhausted. I gained 20 pounds; I felt unhealthy," he said. "I felt there was no way I could do a good job." Oprah chimed in that if he ever wanted to do a once a week design show, she had some available real estate on the OWN network.

Part 2 of Oprah Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday" interview with Nate Berkus airs on Sunday, 2/17 at 11 AM ET on OWN.

More from this contributor:

The best OWN shows you haven't been watching

Oprah Winfrey narrates emotional Super Bowl commercial

Drew Barrymore talks motherhood on 'Oprah's Next Chapter'

View Comments