What Do You Think About Jodi Foster’s Coming-Out Speech?

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 10.30.47 AMIt’s precisely because Jodie Foster’s coming-out—if that’s what it was—had such a stop-start, am-I-doing-this, I’m-scared-but-determined quality to it that it was so powerful. She made a beautiful point about privacy.

She made clear how tough her road and even that moment was. In its incomplete and fuzzy way, her speech was as true a testament as I’ve ever seen/heard to the fear, loneliness and stubborn hope of someone who doesn’t feel she owes the world clarity or an answer but feels she owes herself, and history, and the political moment, some kind of truth. Jodie had weeks to rehearse, but worked through all of that in real time, onstage, before our eyes. Wow.”

—New York Times writer Frank Bruni, discussing Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech, on Facebook. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments section below

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  • Lefty

    I think it was beautifully judged and extremely moving.
    She expressed perfectly the fact that she came out a long time ago.
    She may not have made a big announcement, declaring in simplistic terms that “I’m gay!”, but she publically expressed her love for her partner years ago. And her point that she came out to those close to her much further back in her life, demonstrates that she wasn’t in the closet, as so many sanctimonious people had accused her of being.
    I’ve seen one or two people saying ridiculously that her speech has actually put gay rights back. Eh??? If gay rights are to mean anything then it must encompass the rights of gay people to come out to whoever they want and when they want.
    Otherwise, these sanctimonious people appear to just be discarding the rights of one group of gay people for other groups of gay people.
    The bit about privacy is also a very powerful statement and inspiring to those gay people who may be out to some or many or no one at all. They all have a right to privacy and a true desire for gay rights must encompass the wishes of these gay people too.
    Jodie Foster was never in the closet, it seems. But even for those who are and not out of a desire for privacy but out of fear: that fear is a result of homophobia and in the case of thousands (if not millions) that fear may be about reactions of friends and family or even a fear of violent reprisals and even being driven from their homes. All of these people are victims of homophobia, yet there’s this sanctimonious elitist selfish streak in some that treats those in the closet with complete disregard – it compounds the suffering of people who may well be suffering because of the widespread homophobia that still exists in society or the homophobia they grew up around (even self-hating gay people who become homophobic are victims of this).
    We should congratulate Jodie for being successful and living life on her own terms as a gay woman and be proud of her for that.
    Screw the haters.

  • Snausages

    I know that the Birkenstock set went into hypermoist overdrive last night, but I found Foster’s speech tedious and narcissistic. You ain’t that important, honey. If she wanted to surprise us, she could’ve announced a sequel to Nell.

  • Lefty

    @Snausages: You could accuse all award acceptance speeches of being narcissistic, by their very nature. She was receiving a lifetime achievement award. I’m sure her vast contribution to the arts and her many accomplishments over the last 47 years aren’t as impressive as your exceptionally well written and constructive airing of your tedious narcissistic opinion of her, but I guess she’ll have to live with that. :)

  • Paul

    She was coming out as single. She had already come out in 2007 or so. Her speech is being misinterpreted by the GLBT community and those that like to talk about it. Frank Bruni saw and heard something that I didn’t.

  • Tracy

    The audience cried. I guess it’s excellent.

  • Cosmic Destroyer

    Lady, if you don’t want people asking about your personal life, quit bringing it up.

  • Alan down in Florida

    The people important to her have known for a long time. What I think this was a pre-emptive strike against the paparazzi. She’s single again and doesn’t want her search for new love to turn into a press spectacle like, say, Taylor Swift’s romantic life. Who can blame her for that?

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Let her alone. She’s right on for coming out. Heterosexuals don’t want to be defined solely by their sexuality. Why should any person be defined so narrowly? The more people who come out, the better. Congratulations. I hope you find a life partner who makes you happy.

  • Michael Bedwell

    And, yet AGAIN, Mr. Brunei demonstrates why the NYT should have keep him as their restaurant critic because he doesn’t understand shit from Shinola about gay liberation.
    WORDS MATTER. People keep claiming she actually came out in 2007 when accepting a different award; one person even asserting, “In 2007 Jodie Foster stated that she was in a committed same-sex relationship of 14 years with the same woman.” Of course, she said no such thing; did not use the unequivocal words “same-sex relationship” but only thanked her “partner” which, as we’ll illustrate below, means different things to different people even in the seemingly most obvious circumstances. Nor, as articles then would have people believe, did she use the word “lesbian.” Nor the word “girlfriend.” JUST LIKE LAST NIGHT, people “heard” what they wanted to hear when she accepted that 2007 award. That it reflected the FACTS behind her ambiguous word choice IS BESIDE THE POINT. [Most “heard” she was quitting acting, too, but she told reporters afterwards that she NEVER would.]

    WORDS MATTER. Some will recall the January 2005 hour Oprah devoted her show to the experiences of her decorator discovery Nate Berkus the month before during the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka while he was vacationing there. He teared up, Oprah teared up, the audience teared up, as he spoke movingly about the apparent death of photographer Fernando Bengoechea who’d been with him—his “partner” whom he “loved.” But though Berkus had never come out publicly [and Oprah had previously repeatedly dangled him in front of her mostly female audience as if he were straight], all of us with Gaydar were confidant about what he meant by “partner,” and what kind of “love” he was talking about. Yet, unlike those who wrote him quoted in the video excerpt below, some well-meaning person saw the same show they did yet posted on Oprah’s Website about how sorry she was that he’d lost his “BUSINESS partner.”[Emphasis mine.] Berkus has since explicitly said he’s gay, described Bengoechea as his late lover, and campaigned against bullying, such that even those so eager to imagine everyone is straight until proven otherwise could not misunderstand. Words matter. Berkus, Anderson Cooper [who finally got that visibility is more important than “privacy”], k.d. Lange, Melissa Etheridge, Ellen DeGeneris, Tammy Baldwin, et al., while perhaps imperfect as all of us, are heroes. For the record, acting is one field activist-me gives a pass to. But Foster CHOSE to bring up her orientation last night, and in the middle of her seizure chose to equate the act of coming out publicly with an episode of Honey Boo Boo. She is an excellent actress, but a hero she is not.

  • HeroQueero

    It’s easy to criticize Jodi for her late coming out, but I think we should embrace the silver lining of this moment: We need all of the presence that we can get. The movies tell us that Hollywood is a gay mecca but voter results tell otherwise. And this is because outdated thinking still shapes the movie industry. While some movies do portray gay individuals as just everyday people, there is still a fear that movies with gay characters or movies that address equality issues will turn off heterosexual ticket-buying audiences. We need to be ever present in the world so that the upcoming generations grow up in a world that is more equal and evolved than the past. Who cares if Ms. Foster’s coming out party was late? At least she came out! And now a younger generation will watch her films and realize that sexuality does not limit a person’s ability to create or perform. Now if we just encourage the rest of them to come out as well. Ahem! *winks at Tom*

  • Cam

    It’s a shame that she still seems to twisted up about this. Hopefully this will provide her some peace of mind and clarity and let her know that people knowing you’re gay is not the end of the world. So good for her.

  • Elloreigh

    It was rambling and bizarre – couldn’t follow it.

  • Nomorjeans

    I think she’s brilliant.
    In this day and age why should anyone have to have a speech? Why not just be!
    People are so in need for titles.
    When you go to a party and introduce someone you say, I’d like you to meet “XXX” .
    There is no need for Here is my “gay” friend “xxx”.
    I don’t do it to my straight friends.

  • Brian

    She’s an actress for goodness sake. I don’t know why we hold the acting industry in such high esteem. Most of them are fakes.

  • jwrappaport

    @Brian: We hold actors and other artists in such high esteem because what they do makes life worth living: they bring inestimable joy and human solidarity to us all, without which our lives would be meaningless.

  • redcarpet

    It sounded like she was resentful of having to do it. Don’t do us any favors hunty. If you want to go to your grave never having mentioned you like the ladies, don’t let us stop you. Just so long as you arn’t helping anti-gay causes you can live in your well appointed glass closet.

  • jmmartin

    OK, she came out. Now let’s get back to the movie business and another great performance, if not as an actor, then a producer or director. She’s got to be a tough business person to navigate the mind-fields of that industry! I salute her!

  • Snausages

    What she did last night was neither brave nor noteworthy, and Foster empowered no one but herself. As long as folks approach sexual orientation is a “personal” or “private matter” we are all oppressed. In this regard, she was as much of a coward as she was an early 1990s caricature of an “out” lesbian. The irony is that the essentially defined that caricature.

    You know what would’ve been nice? If she said, “Look: I’m a dyke. And I’m happy. Suck on it. Now, about the craft of acting…”

  • Rick

    I did not see the awards show but after reading this artlicle and her stumbling words
    she did seem to be reluctant about just spitting out the news. But just love her for getting in front of a huge audience and telling, don’t hate her. There are enough obstacles in life for gays already, be happy for her.:-D

  • rf7777

    I really love Jody, but that speech was just weird. A somewhat self induglent(she is allowed) wandering ramble that did not make sense, yes. A brave coming out speech. Definitely not.

    My biggest take from it was that she was quitting acting… which I now hear she isn’t.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    what a boring world this would be if everybody gave the same kind of speeches, if everybody came out the same way, and we all had the same kind of friends.

  • skip

    imagine a world where everybody minded their own business

  • Evji108

    I kinda loved her speech and it made me love her more than ever. I felt it was a lot more than just a coming out speech. It was great stuff.

  • sfbeast

    to me it was a rambling almost incomprehensible speech, pretending to be heartfelt and courageous, about not only her sexuality but her career. and i think she’s a big chicken.

  • LadyL

    @skip: Meaning?

  • breal

    To Jodi Foster, congratulations! and great job even though its none of our business. Keep doing what you are doing, don’t listen to a bunch of nobodies who won’t have anywhere near the accomplishments you do and will never make the money you have made. I think it is truly wonderful what you did. You have a beautiful family as well and I wish you all the best.

    An to the very small % of the glbt community who are berating her for what she did, I hope something terrible happens to you. I really do.

  • Joetx

    @Elloreigh: Me too.

    I saw the headlines that she came out during the Golden Globes. But when I watched it (I DVRed it), at no point did she say “I’m a lesbian” or “I’m gay.” Instead, you had to kind of read b/t the lines. So to me, it wasn’t quite the breakthrough some are making it out to be.

    Plus, her strange love affair w/ Mel Gibson is VERY disturbing.

  • Lefty

    One of the main points of her speech it seems to me was to say that, you know, people are complicated. We all are.
    Why is saying “I’m gay” or “I’m a lesbian” somehow more emphatic than declaring her feelings for and the importance of the woman she spent a large part of her life living with?
    Frank Ocean has never said he’s gay or even bi, but he did talk about his feelings towards a man he was in a relationship with. To me, that is braver in many ways than just saying “I’m gay”. There’s an emotional component to Ocean’s declaration and the same too with Jodie Foster’s speech that would be entirely absent had they just adopted this seemingly taxonomical approach of signifying themselves as gay or bi and leaving it there. Notice how many of the gay celebrities who come out by just saying “I’m gay” then close up about any kind of sexual or emotional element of their sexuality. Which is not to criticise those people, because obviously them coming out is a brave step and a positive thing. It’s just that there are more ways to come out than just saying “I’m gay” – Jodie Foster made it quite clear years ago the love and life that she shared with Cydney Bernard.
    I’m baffled by her friendship with Mel Gibson, too – but surely no one’s in any doubt now about how important a friend he is for her, as she had him at her table and specifically mentioned him in her speech. I think he’s vile, but obviously she sees something more there and he means something to her. We don’t know these people, yet we constantly judge them as though we do.
    People are complicated. Why do we seek to simplify and reduce everything all the time?
    She came out a long time ago. Her Golden Globes speech was about so much more.
    Good for her. :)

  • thof

    strong and sensitif!

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