Jodie Foster, the intensely private 50-year old award-winning actress whose silver screen career spans 47 years, Sunday night at the Golden Globes proved humanity, intelligence, independence, strength, and charm are in the eye of the beholder.
Foster’s speech, delivered for receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award — tying as the youngest person ever to be so honored — was praised and panned by Hollywood insiders and outsiders, professional and amateur critics, and activists and Average Joes alike.
Foster was celebrated and chastised for coming out as a lesbian and for not, for choosing to retain her privacy in possibly the most-public place on earth, as she, in a highly-complex and sometimes confusing tear-jerker, both reveled in and revealed her secrets.
“There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life. My confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most-beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. Thank you Cyd. I am so proud of our modern family, our amazing sons Charlie and Kit, who are my reason to breathe, and to evolve, my blood and soul.”
Foster clearly and repeatedly announced she is single, and a lesbian; a very lonely lady who likes ladies.
“So when I’m here being all confessional, I guess I just have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration… that I’m a little nervous about, but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But you know, I’m just gonna put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m gonna need your support on this. I am… single. Yes I am, I am single.”
And while it’s not the first time she’s announced her love of women, it’s maybe the first time she’s shared her obviously deep loneliness.
“I hope you guys weren’t hoping this would be a big coming out speech tonight, because 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. 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. You guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child.”
The Hollywood crowd at the Golden Globes understood. Tears filled many eyes in that room Sunday night, but across America’s living rooms and social media hangouts, a different response emerged, at least from some.
Anger. Ownership. Expectation. Frustration. And complete misunderstanding.
If an actor’s job is to create emotion — the right emotion — in her audience, Foster both failed and succeeded, for the ones who understood her message clearly are those who don’t judge, who have learned to love and accept and to be grateful. And it was to them she spoke.
Some people are angry at Jodie Foster for not coming out last night, or for not coming out clearly enough, or for coming out reluctantly, or for suggesting there might or should be shame attached, or even for saying, “I came out a thousand years ago.”
But just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so are understanding, acceptance, love, intelligence, charm, wit, elegance, independence, and strength.
Foster exhibited all that and more as she elicited tears, perhaps especially from the controversial Mel Gibson, her friend.
If Mel Gibson, known for his homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks, can watch Jodie Foster come out and reveal herself to the world, and cry like a proud parent, natch, guardian, why are so many LGBT activists so angry?
Sure, it would be great if every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender celebrity, politician, scientist, CEO, entrepreneur, teacher, and other leaders all came out and became role models and inspirations for our LGBTQ youth, who desperately need them.
And yes, those who have achieved celebrity status have an obligation to give back to their community, in some way.
But the LGBT equality movement needs to remind itself why we’re here. We exist to further acceptance and love, to help others embrace the uniqueness of our own special beings, to provide support and solace, to achieve equality for all. “To know us is to love us,” we often say.
Sadly for a surprising some, not last night, when we revealed a dark side in response to one of our own.
If we attack instead of embrace Jodie Foster for her “lifestyle choices,” i.e. for how she chooses to live her life: in private, how are we different from, how are we any better that the anti-gay religious right?
If we, as a community, can’t treat one of our own — one who has never embarrassed us or disrespected us, who never created scandal or shame for our community — with love, honor, and respect, how can we expect the same in return from the rest of the nation?
There are far too many problems in this world. Children are dying. People are hurting. Families are being torn apart. Loving couples cannot marry. People and animals are starving to death. The planet is warming at an ever-increasingly alarming rate. Women are shamed trying to exercise their rights, and made ashamed to acknowledge they were raped. Smart and deserving kids cannot afford to go to college, while local school boards insist on teaching creationism as science and David Barton as history. Christian warriors are indoctrinating children into becoming Christian warriors. The Pope says gay marriage will cause the end of humanity and Uganda wants to impose the death penalty on people for the “crime” of being gay. The PATRIOT Act is alive but the Violence Against Women Act is dead. Lunatics in America are buying guns, semi-automatic assault rifles, and ammunition at an increasingly faster rate every month, while 34 men, women, and children are shot to death every single day. Even now, it’s nearly impossible for many to get affordable health care, as the nation is engulfed in a flu epidemic. Fox News is literally making people more stupid than if they watched no TV at all. LGBTQ people are being fired from their jobs, beaten in the streets, and bullied on the playgrounds, simply because they are LGBTQ people. The federal government is bullying people like Aaron Swartz, literally to death, and killing innocent civilians, including children, halfway around the world with unmanned drones. The Catholic Church has never been fully prosecuted for raping children, Wall Street bankers have never been fully prosecuted for robbing homeowners, and the Bush administration has never been prosecuted at all for war crimes and for lying about WMD. The GOP and the Tea Party want to make abortion illegal, same-sex marriage illegal, education, voting rights, and health care harder to obtain, cut Medicare, Social Security, equal access to the Internet, enshrine torture and discrimination into our constitution, deport all the “illegals,” expand “Stand Your Ground” and concealed carry laws, and bomb Iran as a first resort.
Instead of setting ourselves up as the celebrity conformity cops, let’s harvest, share, and celebrate the gifts and achievements within our community.
There are far too many problems in this world. Surely Jodie Foster is not one of them. As an amazing, diverse, beautiful, intelligent, independent, strong community, let’s not be one either.
Transcript of Foster’s speech via Vulture.
Image: Screenshot via YouTube
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.