Gayle King on Relationship and Career With Oprah Winfrey: 'I Don't See Myself Standing in Oprah's Shadows, Ever'

King responds to rumors about her life and career with Oprah Winfrey.

ByABC News
May 17, 2011, 4:00 PM

May 18, 2011— -- She is proud to be Oprah Winfrey's best friend, but that does not mean that Gayle King is coasting.

"I don't see myself standing in [Winfrey's] shadows, ever," she told "Nightline" anchor Cynthia McFadden. "I really do see myself standing in her light."

Aside from being the editor-at-large of O, the Oprah Magazine, King also hosts a syndicated talk show on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) called "The Gayle King Show," which is also broadcast on Sirius XM satellite radio. King said she is not jealous of her best friend. In part, she said, because no one, including her, can do what Winfrey does.

"No show can be 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' including 'The Gayle King Show,'" she said. "I think she's very good but I think I'm very good too. I think we have different skill sets...but I don't think that I could do what she does and never have."

King talked openly about her professional and personal relationship with Winfrey. The duo, both 56, met while working together at a local Baltimore television station in the 1980s. They have since been inseparable friends and business partners, sparking constant rumors that they are gay.

"I just think it's so irritating and silly that anybody still questions it, but there's nothing I can do about it," King said, who is divorced from William Bumpus, a lawyer in Connecticut, with whom she has two children, Kirby and Will Bumpus, both grown.

"I think the most troubling thing that bothers me about it is the fact that we would deny it, and we've both said this many times, implies that there's something wrong with being gay. That people would think that we would be gay and deny it like there's something wrong. I think that's unfair to gay people. I think it's unfair to Stedman [Graham]. I think it's unfair to me and I think it's unfair to her," she said.

During an interview with Barbara Walters, which aired last December, Winfrey also squashed rumors she was gay, saying "I'm not a lesbian...I'm not even kind of a lesbian." She added that she and Stedman Grahman, a businessman and entrepreneur, have remained a couple since 1986.

Winfrey also became teary-eyed during the interview when Walters asked about her friendship with King, calling her the "mother I never had...the sister everybody would want."

King said she was alone in Australia when she watched that interview and was "very touched" by what Winfrey had said about her.

"The words were so beautiful and so beautifully said," King said. "I know that Oprah and I mean a lot to each other...I know at all times I have somebody that I can count on always."

Through her friendship with Winfrey, King said Stedman Graham also has been a part of her life for a long time.

"There was once this terrible tabloid headline that said, 'Stedman sick of Gayle. Gayle's always there,'" she said. "He goes, 'Gayle, please! I like the fact that [you and Winfrey] are good friends. I think it's good that she has a person she can always count on."