Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

No closets for Suze Orman


Author Suze Orman. Photo: Marc Royce
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It's been quite a coming out for financial guru Suze Orman, who insists that she was never "in," so how could she come out?

Orman, 55, publicly revealed that she is in a relationship with a woman in the New York Times magazine Sunday, February 25 during an interview about her latest book, Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny.

"I have never been 'in' so it's impossible for me to come out," said Orman in a telephone interview with the Bay Area Reporter Monday, March 12. "I've known from day one who I am and I couldn't be more proud if I tried. If anybody knew my history they would know that I ran a gay women's house when I went to the University of Illinois [at Urbana-Champaign] that was written up in the papers in 1973.

"They would know that I am somebody who went around to many of the college campus and split up the gay movement to where the lesbians had their own lesbian groups because I didn't think that women belonged with men. If anybody really knew my history it's like, are you crazy?"

Orman, who told the Times that one journalist has estimated her liquid net worth at $25 million – and said "that's pretty close" – hosts an Emmy Award-winning financial show, The Suze Orman Show , on CNBC, which just marked its five-year anniversary, and she is the author of five consecutive New York Times bestsellers. She writes a financial column for O , The Oprah Magazine and the "Money Matters" column for Yahoo Personal Finance.

Orman told the B.A.R. that everyone in the financial industry knew she was a lesbian from the first moment they began doing business together, including Chip Gibson at Crown Publishers, which published her first book 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical & Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying .

"I walked into his office [and said], 'I just want to make sure that you know that I am a lesbian and that you don't have a problem with that.' He said, 'So, what else is new?'" said Orman. "I did that with the president of GE Capital, CNBC – every single entity I've ever done a major deal with it was the first thing I told them about myself."

Orman's subtle announcement about her partner Kathy "K.T." Travis, now a partner in the Suze Orman empire and a former advertising executive, in Deborah Solomon's February 25 interview for the New York Times magazine caused only a tiny ripple in the mainstream and LGBT media.

There were brief chats about this significant part of her personal life on Larry King Live and The View while promoting her new book, Women & Money, but not the waves of media gossip and blog posts that have accompanied other announcements by celebrities about their same-sex-loving ways.

"I was shocked," said Katharine Holland, the B.A.R. 's business columnist. "Now I know why I was so drawn to her books."

She added that perhaps Orman was trying to give her audience clues that they simply missed or shrugged off, for example, "Young, Fabulous and Broke ... trying to give us a clue with that title 'fabulous'?" Holland was referring to Orman's book The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke.

It is unclear why this is the case. According to Orman, she was never asked these questions before and she assumed that because she was open that everyone knew. Most of all the fact that she's the "money lady" and that green possibly sees past prejudice.

"In all these years I have never been asked these questions," said Orman, who told the B.A.R. that Solomon actually asked her if she was heterosexual and if she had ever been with a man. She told the B.A.R. that she couldn't believe she was being asked those questions. Orman, who said she has never been with a man, shot back in her sarcastic joking way, "I've never been with a man in my whole life. I'm still a 55-year-old virgin."

"So now all the gay and lesbian groups can comment on that," said Orman. "Give me a break, 'Are you that shallow? Are you all that shallow?'"

According to Orman, her response to Solomon's questions was taken out of context.

That still doesn't explain why the buzz in the mainstream and LGBT media has been more of a soft fizz.

Orman's explanation is, "I'm the 'money lady.' I'm the one who educates you on what you need to know about money whether you're a man or a woman, young or old, rich or poor, gay or straight, African American, white, Hispanic, Latino ... it doesn't matter. Money crosses every possible cultural divide."

Holland agreed. "[She gives] solid advice and breaks it down where everyone can understand it."

Just like her strong philosophy on all money matters, "People first, then money, then things," Orman wants equality when it comes to same-sex relationships. She pointed out in Solomon's column that if something happened to her, Travis would lose half of everything Orman has to estate taxes.

She's not alone in that regard and she knows it. Orman told the B.A.R. that she's always included the terms "life partner" and "domestic partnership" in her books.

"I talk about it in the same way that I would talk about anything that has to do with money," said Orman. "I never included it exclusively and I never excluded it."

She continued, "I am not somebody who cares if we call it marriage. Do I care that we are legally recognized and have the absolute same rights? I absolutely do, but I'm not attached to the word marriage."

Orman will be appearing in the Bay Area next week to sign copies of her latest book. Appearances include: March 21 at Stacey's Books, 581 Market Street in San Francisco at 12:30 p.m. and Dominican University of California, Angelico Concert Hall, 50 Acacia Avenue in San Rafael at 7 p.m.; and March 22 at Copperfield's Books, 3900-A Bel Aire Plaza, Hwy 29 and Trancas Street in Napa at 7 p.m.

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