Jodie Foster finally addressed years of media speculation when she casually came out while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement during the Golden Globes on Sunday night.
The accomplished and prolific 50-year-old actress opened the emotional, nearly seven-minute long speech by revealing, “I just have the sudden urge to say something I’ve never been able to air in public. A declaration that I’m a little nervous about. Not quite as nervous as my publicist, huh, Jennifer? But uh, you know, I’m just going to put it out there. Loud and proud. I’m going to need your support. I am ... single!”
Later, while bemoaning the lack of privacy celebrities are given in the modern digital age, she said, “I already did my coming out back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually and proudly to everyone who knew her—to everyone she actually met.”
Foster’s speech was met with mixed reaction and even controversy. Some decried the fact that she vaguely addressed the topic by choosing not to use the word gay, while others bemoaned that the public admission was years overdue. Then, there were those—like Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder—who defended the public figure’s decision to lead a private life.
“As far as I’m concerned, as long as a gay person hasn’t been actively pretending to be straight (like a number of people in that hall tonight are probably doing), I don’t think she is required to be an activist or even a ‘role model’ for younger LGBT people if she doesn’t wish to be,” Lowder wrote. “It is, of course, wonderful when big names like Zachary Quinto and Anderson Cooper have the courage to give up their hetero-privilege in a public pronouncement, and undoubtedly the increasing recognition that so many of our culture-makers are gay has the power to challenge perceptions. But in the midst of the noisy demand that celebrities be ‘loud and proud,’ as Foster put it, the ostensible endgame of the LGBT equality movement can get drowned out: the ability to live our lives as we wish, freely and gently, in peace.”
Although the media have jumped all over Foster’s speech, it’s worth noting—as BuzzFeed’s Kate Aurthur points out—that this wasn’t exactly the first time Foster publicly came out: She first did so subtly back in 2007 at a Hollywood Reporter breakfast, where she referenced her then-longtime partner Cydney Bernard.
“That 2007 reference to Bernard didn’t get much pickup at the time; the mainstream media didn’t know then, and still doesn’t know, how to report on the lives of gay celebrities who don’t make a huge, public declaration,” Aurthur noted.
Foster’s comments were one of the highlights of the awards ceremony Sunday night. If you missed it, her speech is worth watching, and if you happened to catch it, it’s definitely worthy of a second look.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.