"I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago", said Jodie Foster at the 70th Golden Globes Jan.13.
Foster's powerful speech and upbeat message has received the praise and respect of countless fans, celebrities and members of the LGBT community around the world. It was a courageous special event during one of the most distinguished moments of the career of an actor and director in the company of peers. Foster acknowledged "her family" of children, friends, and colleagues at the Golden Globes as the broadcast was telecast around the world. She was among her supporters. She was proud of her life, of her work, of her children and of her relationship with ex-partner Cydney Bernard who were all sitting at her table. She appeared high spirited, joyous and visibly animated and announced she was "single".
“There is no way I could 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. And boys, in case you didn’t know it, this song, all of this. This song is for you.”
Since then, there has also been a bit of criticism by LGBT activists and a bit of misogyny going on about Foster's speech. Viewpoints within the LGBT community are overwhelmingly positive, but unfortunately include a transparent and unwritten protocol that is being flaunted as truth: one must come out publicly if one is a public figure.
Foster's Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Award speech has been criticized as "meandering", "unfocused", "overemotional", and "narcissistic and self-loving", which are typical comments made when women speak out. And having spoken out, Foster has been criticized for not speaking out before about her relationship, for lying, for shouting out the need for privacy and then coming out, or even that she spoke out at all. Foster has for so long been such a powerful female icon, that it is baffling that when she speaks out about herself it's been so negated.
Some of the grumbling brings to mind the reaction six years ago to the Dixie Chicks when they spoke out against the war in Iraq. They were told to "shut up and sing". Gay journalist Andrew Sullivan ("Daily Beast") claims "virtually every coming out these days is low-key, simple and no-drama" and that Foster has now "stopped lying". Sullivan trivializes her declaration and her delay after "others far less powerful had made the sacrifice to make that possible". In so doing, Sullivan equally picks apart her timing: "she waited for the safest moment of all - winning a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award". Gay film and television actor Wilson Cruz had a similar opinion and went as far to write "f--- you" to Foster within social media channels. Here's a question to the two from Jodie Foster speaking to Robert DeNiro in 'Taxi Driver": "Didn't you ever hear of women's lib?"
That Foster revealed as much as she did to the world was inspirational. It wasn't a rehearsed speech or a polished delivery. There was a balance of vulnerability and outspokenness. The Cecil B DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment is a milestone achievement and it symbolizes a turning point in Foster's life at age 50. She is the second youngest actor to receive the award after 47 years of acting. Judy Garland was the first at 39, who started performing at two and was 47 when she passed away.
It is not surprising that Foster hesitated to speak publicly about her life given the criticism from LGBT activists who question her right to privacy and why she has not come out before. The comments at the same time also convey congratulations, albeit insincere, to the hard working, two-time Oscar winning actress. Those awards were not criticized when she did not come out publicly but the attempt to trivialize her Lifetime Achievement award is abundantly clear in the smaller, more intimate setting of the Globes, which is all the more disappointing. There is a difference between activism and personal integrity. Both command respect.
Whenever and however Jodie Foster 'came out', it was audaciously luminous. For her, it was long ago that she told her friends and colleagues. For us who don't even know her, it was worth the wait. She came out all over the world on prime time TV. Who does that? She was brilliant!