If you were watching the Golden Globes ceremony or a member to any social network like twitter or Facebook, then you heard about the unexpected and very moving speech by actress Jodie Foster. While the very accomplished, two-time Oscar Winner was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Foster delivered a rousing speech in what many believed was her coming out. During her speech, Foster started off with phrases as if she was going to make an announcement, but it led into a joke. Though later in the speech, Foster did address that she is a lesbian:
“I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never been able to air in public that I’m a little nervous about — but maybe not as nervous as my publicist. So I’m just going to put it out there, loud and proud, right? I’m going to need your support on this. I am, uh — I’m single,”
“I already did my coming out a thousand years ago, in the Stone Age. Those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to friends and family and co-workers then gradually to everyone that knew her, everyone she actually met. But now apparently I’m told that every celebrity is to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a primetime reality show.”
The reaction varied from audiences members, viewers, and commentators in the LGBT community. Many did not know that Foster had come out years ago, even though she has never lived a lie by having a “public” relationship with a man. She even thanked her ex-partner and co-parent Cydney Bernard for the life and two children they share together. There were cries and claps of support to inappropriate laughing to complete confusion as to what Foster was trying to say. There’s anger because some feel that the way of (in)formally announcing to a live audience that she’s a lesbian without actually saying the words “I’m gay” which was accompanied by a joke took away from the point Foster was trying to make.
After watching the speech several times, I believe I understand why Foster did it this way. When we admit we’re gay to others and when we admit it to ourselves, we come to this moment of acceptance that we will own and cherish. Because when we come to the moment, that peaceful, beautiful, absolute moment of saying quietly to ourselves, “I’m gay and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that” we feel that we no longer have to explain to anyone why it’s okay. Because we are not living for the lives, opinions, or beliefs of others. We are living for ourselves so why do we have to explain why it’s okay to be attracted to, to have sex with, to fall in love with someone of the same gender. Saying the exact words “I’m gay” as often as possible because the admission symbolically means no shame. It is one the most profound moments in our lives.
So no, Jodie Foster does not owe us a damn thing. She does not owe us an explanation as to what is her sexuality. Nor do I or anyone else in this world. Coming out is a process no matter who you are. From the accomplished actress, to a college student, teacher, cook, investment banker and everyone in between, we all go through periods of reflection and observation. We learn about who we are and what that means to us. Money or class hierarchy, race, age, or any other demographic does not diminish the impact of that process. How I hope for the day when coming out is no longer a process and sexuality does not need a declaration.
But we as a society are not there yet. We still live in an age where people still think we are possessed by demons for being gay. Where millions of dollars are donated to organizations that claim they can “cure” us if only we pray enough. A time where politicians and pompus pundits insult our way of life. We are still discriminated against, bullied, threatened, or even killed. Most of us still can be fired from our jobs for being gay and many of us are still denied the civil right to marry the one we love.
Therefore, I feel we need to hold our heads high with an indignant presence when we talk about our sexuality. When we have had that moment of acceptance of who we are, we should be able to say or not say that in however fashion we choose with not a trace of shame. Let those that believe we are sinners know that we do not give a damn what they think. We should be able to express or not express being LGBTQIA however we deem is right for us, owning it completely.
It shows that there is nothing wrong with being gay and the world needs to see that, constantly challenging and defying the bigoted beliefs of our adversaries and naysayers. Every time that an actor, celebrity, or anyone else does so proves that point to those still in the closet. Those that live in fear need that inspiration. They need a physical example as to why it is okay so one day they’ll realize that being gay is great. And I believe that is what Foster meant because that is how the speech felt. It is blatantly obvious that Foster is proud of her family, her life, and her sexuality without an once of shame or guilt. Still, a part of me wishes she would have said “I’m gay”.