The Silence of the Lesbian

Jodie Foster came out as a lesbian… in 2007.

But, last night, at the Golden Globes, she came out again… on TV.

“You know, I’m just gonna put it out there, right? Loud and proud! So, um, I’m gonna need your support on this — I am, uh… single.” This is one of the most courageous speeches I’ve seen on an awards show because it’s very scary for lesbians to come out as single – especially at 50 years old! I mean, where did you park the U-Haul?

Foster has always been a fiercely private celebrity. Having been in the spotlight since childhood, privacy is probably something one has to make a conscious effort to carve into their lives. While her speech was a little erratic and full of mixed messages (Privacy!! No wait, “I want to be seen and understood, deeply, and to not be so very lonely”), it had an unique, genuine heart that took me a third viewing of the speech to fully comprehend. Her message to her mother was sincerely moving, the looks of admiration from her sons, adorable. I’m still confused why the miserable Mel Gibson was sitting next to her, though.

In the past, I have felt that if you are a queer person in the public eye, it is your responsibility to help build community by being out. This has been and will continue to be important, however it seems that Hollywood has gone from in the closet, to coming out, to slyly staying in the closet again. Remember when Zachary Quinto and Anderson Cooper officially stepped out last year? No parades. No fanfare. No one cared! With Foster’s speech, she has put the idea in motion that being homosexual is sooooo not a big deal anymore, so why even say it? Perhaps, starting now, “This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else”. A world where no one cares. We’ve done the marches, we’ve fought bigots, we came out of the closet so many times that our doors are unhinged. We’re to the point now that if someone wants to stay private, and it’s empowering to do so, then do it up! Meanwhile, anyone who wants to reveal their sexuality should ALSO be applauded!

Now, this could be a point of division amongst the queer folks. “I feel like she invited me over to her house for dinner, but then yelled at me for showing up!”, says a friend of mine. And I understand this notion. Jodie Foster said and did the right thing for Jodie Foster, as a member of the new Old Hollywood circle. She has stayed steadfast in her world view for so long that that view is now en vogue. Have we come out full circle?

But — a part of me still thinks that if it was all about privacy, why would she have said anything at all?

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