It’s official. Not just “calling her then-partner ‘my beautiful Cydney’ in public” official. Not just “the kids have both their names” official. It’s “now she’s said it to the world” official: Jodie Foster came out. She did so in a heartfelt speech at the Golden Globe Awards last night, after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.
She insisted, however, “There’s not gonna be a big coming-out speech” and explained, “I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago,” to “trusted friends and family and coworkers” and then to everyone she “actually met.” The famously private star reiterated how much she valued her privacy.
Immediately the Internet lit up: You mean she wasn’t out, many asked? It was a poor speech, some said. She should have done it sooner, others opined.
Here’s my two cents: She came out in her own way and in her own time. That’s all that matters. Would that we all could do the same.
I also thoroughly admire how she’s stuck to her privacy through the years. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing headlines about every time a celebrity twitches—and seeing celebrities twitch just to make headlines. It’s not as if being lesbian was the only part of her life she hid from the public—if so, I might have criticized her for that, for it would have indicated she was ashamed of being lesbian or fearful for what being out could mean for her career. But she hid all aspects of her personal life as a matter of policy—and unless you’ve had someone try to assassinate the president in an attempt to impress you, I say don’t judge her desire to do so.
Some will argue that visibility matters, and she should have come out earlier in order to serve as a role model. I say she’s served the LGBT community in her own way. In 1994, she was the first major donor to provide support for the production of the short film Trevor, about a teenager who attempts suicide after realizing he might be gay. The film won the Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action), and spurred the filmmakers to found The Trevor Project, now the leading national crisis intervention and suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth. She did this in 1994, folks—long before LGBTQ youth suicide became a big issue in the national headlines in 2009-10 and other celebrities like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry added their voices. In 2007, Foster gave The Trevor Project the biggest donation in its history. Sure, national out visibility can be a good thing, but it’s not the only way to serve.
I should, too, note Foster’s acknowledgment of Cydney Bernard, her former partner with whom she has two sons. She called Bernard, “my heroic co-parent” and said, “I am so proud of our modern family.” How many divorced parents could or would say that?
She also spoke of “our amazing sons, Charlie and Kit, who are my reasons to breathe and to evolve, my blood and soul. And boys, in case you didn’t know it, this song, like all of this, this song is for you.”
No, she didn’t sing. It was a metaphor. By “this song,” did she mean her coming out? Her career? Her hinted-at retirement from acting? Her life? I don’t know—and she may never tell us. What’s clear is that she’s a mom who puts her kids first, and who is not afraid to change—”evolve”—for them. Would that we all could do the same.