Foster at the Golden Globes.Of all the supposedly-gay celebrities in the rumor mill, Jodie Foster has perhaps remained caught in it the longest. Why? Perhaps because she's chosen to remain silent—or confusingly vague, rather—about her sexuality for so many years.
It's hardly surprising, then, that media coverage of her Sunday night Golden Globes speech has alternately hailed Foster for coming out, wondered what the heck she was trying to say, and yawned, reporting that the star came out "again."
What she did say, after opening with the tease, "I'm just going to put it out there, loud and proud. I am, uh, . . . single," was, among other things, thank you to Cydney Bernard, her former longtime partner with whom she has two sons. Foster called her "my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consiglieri, [and] most beloved BFF of 20 years."
Foster also claimed she had already come out. “I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family, co-workers, and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met,” she said. “But now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show.”
But had she ever truly been out before? And is she even now?
Not according to political gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, who wrote, in response to her comments, "What unadulterated bullshit. She never came out until, very obliquely, in 2007. And virtually every coming out these days is low-key, simple and no-drama. I do not remember Anderson Cooper's press conference, fragrance or reality show."
Wall Street Journal writer Eric Sasson
shared a similar sentiment. "I'm pretty sure that when someone famous
comes out publicly that they aren't automatically forgoing their right
to privacy," he wrote. "Wasn't it possible, for instance, for someone
like Foster to have said, fifteen years ago, 'I'm gay. And just like
straight people, gay people value their privacy. Now leave me alone.'
How about ten years ago? Or even five years ago?"
Michelangelo Signorile, an activist, writer and satellite radio host, whose touchstone 1993 book Queer in America explored the negative effects of the gay closet, wrote on the Huffington Post today that "Jodie Foster's sexual orientation has been discussed since the '80s," and that he discussed the rumors in a column he wrote at back then, but that Foster has "steadfastly refused" to discuss her sexuality in the decades since.
Still, he concluded about the speech, "It was another win for busting down the closet door among public figures. It was also another example of the new way that celebrities are coming out, embarrassed in 2013 to have ever been in the closet and claiming that they've always been out (even if that sounds pretty ludicrous, as it does in this case)."
As far as those who say this is a second coming out, here's what they're referring to: In 2007, while accepting an award at the 16th annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast, Foster thanked "my beautiful Cydney, who sticks with me through all the rotten and the bliss," which, according to the LA Daily News reporter covering the event, referred to Bernard. But the venue was private and relatively small. And for those out of the loop—including gay, struggling teens in small-town America, and everyone else in those towns—hearing that Jodie thanked "Cydney" could have easily been like hearing that she'd thanked "Pat."
Foster raised the hopes of gay and lesbian fans again in 2007 when she made the biggest donation ever to the LGBT Trevor Project--though it was in honor of her late friend and Little Man Tate producer Randy Stone. The organization runs the nation's only 24-hour suicide hotline for LGBT youth, and thanked the actor on Facebook today for her "candid, fearless and inspiring speech."
Leo Preziosi, Jr, the director of another LGBT youth organization, Live Out Loud, told Yahoo! Shine about Foster, "This is all so individual, and I think we need to
respect how people individually come out," he said, "because we have to
then turn to the students and respect how they come out."
But, he explained, "It's important for the older generation of gay people to be out for the younger generation." The New York City organization sends out LGBT adults into high schools to speak as mentors to gay youth. "We just need to show the younger generation what the possibilities are. We need to show them that there is life after high school. And we need to be out not just in the entertainment field, but in every field. We all need to find a way to do that."