Rosie O'Donnell's Brave Step: PEOPLE
Publicly admitting her sexuality has been a long process for Rosie O'Donnell, though close friends say the talk-show host confided in them early on, PEOPLE reports in its latest cover story. "We were in our late teens when she told me," recalls O'Donnell's lifelong best friend, Jackie Ellard, 39, to whom O'Donnell made the admission in 1980. "She wasn't timid about telling me. She said she felt that this was the way her life was meant to be." Still, anyone interested in knowing details about O'Donnell's sexual awakening -- and her romantic history -- won't find them in her upcoming memoir, "Find Me," says the magazine. The tome focuses primarily on Rosie's platonic friendship with an abused young woman. In fact, the word "gay" doesn't even appear in the book, and O'Donnell, who turns 40 on March 21, makes only passing references to her companion, Kelli Carpenter, 34, as well as to two earlier romantic relationships, one with a man and one with a woman. As for all the recent newsbreaks about O'Donnell's sexual orientation affecting the way the public views the entertainer, an informal poll conducted on PEOPLE.com found that 85 percent of the 15,000 respondents said they were "not surprised" by the news that O'Donnell is gay. But in a separate question, 15 percent said the news makes them regard her less positively. About that, well, O'Donnell doesn't much care, say pals. "She has never been ashamed," says Ellard. "Never."
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