Jodie Foster criticizes people who demand she come out, then she does (kinda)

Jodie Foster accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award last night at the Golden Globes, and her speech was, well, different.  The video is below.

She started off making it sound as though she was going to come out as gay, but then ended the build-up by saying, yes, she was…. “single.”

She then proceeded to lecture people who were demanding that she tell more details of her private life. Clearly she meant people who want her to talk about being gay.

It was a bit odd and uncomfortable. But she then made a point that I think has some merit:

Jodie Foster at the Golden GlobesI’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a primetime reality show…. I’m sorry, that’s just not me, it never was and it never will be…. But seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too would value privacy above all else – privacy. Some day in the future, people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was. I have given everything up there from the time that I was three years old, that’s reality show enough don’t you think?

She then went on to mention her “co-parent” and “ex-partner in love,” Cydney Bernard, which certainly counts as coming out.  Albeit somewhat tangentially.  Then again, one could argue that it’s simply more graceful and classy than simply saying, “oh yeah, by the way, I’m gay.”

Here’s the thing. I think the only problem I might fault Foster for is conflating something relevant with something irrelevant. She’s understandably frustrated with the Paparazzi life she has to lead from the age of 3. But is it really the same thing, Entertainment Tonight wanting you to come out because it’s great for ratings, and the gay community wanting you to come out because it’s great for our youth’s future survival?

I think the immediately chorus of confusion and criticism I saw from my gay friends and colleagues online, in response to Foster’s speech, were justified. Scold the paparazzi who want you to come out because they’re bloodsuckers. Don’t scold your own community who has learned over the years that the best way we have of securing our civil rights, and saving gay kids who are at far too high a risk of suicide (and bullying), is by giving them role-models, and giving society yet another “she’s gay? I like her.”

I’ve had a…. what do you call a man-crush a gay guy has for a lesbian?… for Jodie Foster since I was a kid.  So maybe I’m just prone to giving her a break.  I do think that she was somewhat “off” tonight at the Golden Globes.  Maybe someone pestered her about coming out right before the awards.  Who knows.  And I can respect the overwhelming desire for privacy from any movie star, especially one who has sought it since the age of 3.  I just think that perhaps she could have responded, to the legitimate desire of the gay community to publicly welcome her into the fold, with something less than a scold.

Here’s more on my theory on why coming out matters, when I was writing about Nate Silver:

Nate silver

Nate Silver by Randy Stewart.

It matters because it matters. When gay people still are having their civil rights voted on, like some high school popularity contest, and we often lose, then it matters who in famous-land is gay because it puts another face to the “gay menace” and makes it that much less menacing.

It’s long been held that people become more supportive of our civil rights if they know someone gay. And even if (or perhaps even better if) the person is a “celebrity” who you don’t know personally, but perhaps feel even more strongly about than someone you actually know – finding out they’re gay helps to soften any internal opposition you might have.

It also doesn’t hurt, when gay kids are killing themselves because they refuse to believe that it will ever get better, for those same kids to see adult role models who are happy, successful, well-loved and admired, and yes, gay.

So yeah, until it stops mattering that we’re gay, it matters that you’re gay.

Here’s Jodie Foster last night:


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Sweetie

    again, not a rebuttal

  • Sweetie

    that’s not a rebuttal

  • I’m attacking your ideas nitwit. That you take it as a personal attack only highlights your immaturity and narcissism.

  • Bravo! Well said.

  • And your s**t doesn’t stink? Take a deep whiff, evidence is to the contrary.

  • Sweetie

    Pretty platitudes won’t change BS into flowers.

  • Provide proof of exact quote insect.

  • Jodi does and you are not invited.

  • Well, where is the link? I want to read it.

  • What, no response. I thought as much.

  • What a selfish bitch. She chose a career in movies, in which she has had enormous success, all the while denying that she is a lesbian, then talks about privacy for 7 long boring minutes while accepting a totally undeserving award. Who will get it next year, John Travolta? Then the HFPA could rename it the Closet Case Award, there seem to be plenty of them in Hollywood, thanks to the fine example set by Jodie Foster et al.

    I’m fed up with these late blooming closet cases who have practiced denial for most of their adult lives and then expect to be accepted with open arms by the LGBTQIA community (whomever we may be), which often happens because in the words of a poet, we are a peaceful loving people. But I call bullshit when I smell it and her speech stunk.

  • dula

    Does Ellen have a perfume out?

  • dula

    I never said she was brave. If she didn’t want to put her career at risk or deal with the media constantly referencing her sexuality in order to help forward Gay visibility, that was up to her. She never fraudulently tried to appear Straight so I never faulted her for taking the easier path.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Privacy – avoidance of bigotry by remaining closeted – is not something that Foster and others need in order to live. If they come out they’re protected by wealth and position. Others, like Larry King and Sakia Gunn are victims of the unrelenting violence of a society mired in bigotry and violence.

    Coming out is always complex and no one, especially youth, should be hectored or pressured into coming out.

    Clearly coming out is a political decision but it’s also deeply rooted in personal circumstances. How many of us, over the years, have been killed just for coming out? How many tossed out of our homes and onto the streets to face the option of prostitution or starvation? How many of us have been denied an education, decent housing and a good job for being out? How many have been driven to suicide, whether quick of slowly by drugs, booze or barebacking?

    No one should mistake the mores of gay communities for the mores and norms of a society where racism, woman hating, homohating and other forms of bigotry are woven into it’s very fabric. They are not the same.

    That said, her coming out and Obama’s years of bigotry followed by an election eve ‘evolution’ are both testaments to the power of bigotry.

  • Badgerite

    Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Bishop of the Espiscopal Church, who is retiring, was on NPR show Fresh Air with Terry Gross tonight. It was a really good interview. Really good. He was asked to give an invocation at Obama’s first inaugural but not at the main event. Maybe they should consider him for the main invocation this time around. His book, God Believes in Love,Straight Talk About Gay Marriage is one I will have to read.

  • Yep, as I said. She’s not one of us.

  • Oh come on. That’s all you’ve got?

  • “I see it as routine–and to be expected.” So do I and I believe in a Democracy that allows for choice. And, yes, I will always see coming out as extraordinary. What I do find appalling is your disrespect for the history and pioneers that allow you to be an inflexible ideologue.

  • You do realize of course, that ‘those types’ are dead?

  • What are you talking about? What freeloading? You mean raising her family in privacy and protecting them from the media mob?

  • I missed her mocking. Link?

  • I missed that. Give the quote and link.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    No, for you, it’s generational. Now your closet-defending attitude makes perfect sense. You’re living in 1978.

  • It’s not a gay bashing blog,

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Whom Jodie Foster just derisively mocked.

  • Your buttal is off topic.

  • “That’s all there is to it.” Ah, a perfect example of a closed mind.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Those types deserve OUTING. Not just criticism for nit coming out.

  • Completely wrong, Looking in the mirror?

  • Skeptical Cicada

    No. Go fuck yourself

  • Skeptical Cicada

    And it is very important when these people rear their heads, present gayness as a dark private secret, and mock people who are actually out for the rest of us to loudly object before the straight world starts repeating that garbage and lauding her like some kind of role model, as they’ve already begun doing.

  • I suspect, most of us would agree that coming out is not only an act of courage and essential to building an authentic identity, but an extremely personal decision and not some inflexible or rigid ideology as you insist. And BTW anyone who disagrees with you is not homophobic or a straw man.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    No. She’s had a partner for 20 damn years. Her time to come out without being criticized passed a very long time ago.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Agreed, particularly when she mocks everyone who, unlike her, is actually out

  • Skeptical Cicada

    If she wanted to hide her lesbianism, she shoukd’t have exploited rights that noncowards won for her while she was freeloading.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I could not care less how furious an apologist for cowardice is.

  • “The same thing might be said about the words of” Sweetie. Warped is warped

  • yadda yadda

  • “little self-enclosed mirrored bubbles instead’ Ah, like the one you have exhibited here?

  • zero

  • Ah, it’s all about you is it? Pathetic

  • zero

  • We’ll leave the hog to you, sweetie.

  • sourpuss

  • “More homophobic nonsense.” Bullshit as usual from you Ellen is Ms gay face you dumbbell. She has created a great niche for illuminating GLTBQ causes and culture.

  • bullshit

  • Sweetie

    I suppose it depends upon how much it would be an imposition.

  • Sweetie

    Wrong. She owes everyone, including everyone who has come before. No human life is created in a vacuum or lives in one.

  • Sweetie

    That logic would work if people lived in little self-enclosed mirrored bubbles instead of living in groups, in societies.

    Real life doesn’t work your way. We can’t all be Narcissus.

  • Sweetie

    “Let Ellen Degeneres do the cake walk and be Ms. celebrity gay face.”

    More homophobic nonsense.

  • Sweetie

    Normally I wouldn’t invoke Godwin’s, but in this case it fits.

  • Sweetie

    “That may come off as warped to us, and it probably is. But it’s the only thing she knows.”

    The same thing might be said about the words of Maggie Gallagher or Anita Bryant.

    Warped is warped. Illogical is illogical. Homophobic is homophobic.

  • Sweetie

    Illogical. People don’t live in isolation. They live in groups. “It’s no one’s business” is something that people say about things that are bad, that a person wants to be kept secret.

    Your reasoning is homophobic.

  • Sweetie

    What hogwash.

    “I suspect that the unannounced ‘gay’ label was unnecessary because love and acceptance were operating on a more integrated and ‘higher’ level.”

    Are you posting in the right blog?

  • Sweetie

    Attacking me personally is an admission that you have no rebuttal.

  • Sweetie

    Odd. I didn’t realize this is a gay-bashing blog.

  • Sweetie

    Ad hominem noise is not a rebuttal.

  • Sweetie

    When a person accepts the judgment that homosexuality must be hidden, they are accepting it. The closet is acceptance of that judgment and it perpetuates it. That’s all there is to it. People in rather safe conditions like Jodie Foster certainly do not have the same level of excuse for being selfish as someone in Uganda.

  • Sweetie

    What’s disgusting is the refusal to reckon with the severe consequences the “closet” entails. What’s disgusting is the use of straw men to apologize for perpetuating shame.

  • Sweetie

    It’s not complicated. All the excuses are straw men.

  • Not all gay people are meant to be role models or symbols or whatever. She can do what she wants, which is what we all want. If you want to be a role model, come out like its a sunny sunday!

  • In the Big Scheme, who gives a flying fuck what some celebrity says and does?

  • Gary Brunton

    Her speech was perfect. She doesn’t owe anyone anything. Political correctiness is soo fake.

  • FLL

    Some of the other commenters made the point that Jodie Foster, who adopted children with her ex-partner, has benefited from the efforts of others who were much more open in past decades. That is true because she wouldn’t have been as free to raise her children with a same-sex partner were it not for activists and pioneers. However, I don’t find anything offensive in that. The vast majority of any population group will always benefit from the efforts of a much smaller group of pioneers. I don’t think that’s unusual in any way. The few pioneers were the leaders in earlier decades, and as more and more people benefited from their efforts, more and more people have come out. I don’t take offense at that dynamic, but more importantly, I think that dynamic has been in effect since the beginning of time. You thank the pioneers for their efforts, as you should, and the greater population is healthier as a result of those efforts. Jodie Foster, like the vast majority of any population group, is no activist. No offense taken.

  • Thank you—–couldn’t agree more. I’ve been out for over fifty years and say: For me It’s personal, it’s timing, it’s political, it’s cultural and it’s nobody’s god damn business, unless I make it so or reacting to you making it so.

  • Yep, the ‘OUT’ Nazis are in a swarm today.

  • FedUp

    Furthermore, ironically, it is the likes of all of you that make me remain in the closet. You’re all so much better than those of us who don’t want to come out. We’re cowards. We’re weak. We’re setting bad example for kids. I’m more intimidated by the judgmental gay community than the straight one. Do you ever stop and think that YOU are part of the problem? I’m telling you, you are.

  • FedUp

    I’ve never been more furious at this community. I am so tired of you and the rest, who are far more self-righteous than Ms. Foster. NO ONE owes it to ANYONE to “come out” as gay or anything else. YOU are exactly what Ms. Foster was ranting against. She thanked he ex-partner, not as her way of coming out, but because she had never explicitly done so before. She was getting a lifetime achievement award. She is allowed to say whatever she wants to summarize that lifetime. Get a grip, John and the other whiny voices who think Jodie Foster is such a disappointment.

  • agreed

  • Thank you, a voice of reason

  • Like I said, “Give it a rest O bitter ad hominem one.

  • And your panties must look like macrame at this point.

  • Exactly

  • Or take lessons from Rosey O’ Donnell.

  • And who appointed you as moral queen of the world? And, yes it will happen for a complexity of reasons that are certainly more viable than your angry miniscule narrow minded imperative.

  • Disgusting false equivalence. Shame on you!

  • She’s not a GLTBQ heroine. It’s her choice and that is just fine with me. Let Ellen Degeneres do the cake walk and be Ms. celebrity gay face.

  • Indeed—the nastier types. Roy Cohn comes to mind as does J. Edgar Hoover.

  • This view is understandable but narrow minded.

  • Well no, I don’t have to say that. Only morons would care about Bradgelina and that includes whether they hide it or not

  • This is a sensitive reply and points out the complexity of communicating identity qualities. I suspect that the unannounced ‘gay’ label was unnecessary because love and acceptance were operating on a more integrated and ‘higher’ level.

  • Good one

  • It’s more complex that that and not just a matter of shame. These sweeping judgements are off base. Maybe she wanted to protect her children from exposure from media vultures…etc…

  • ridiculous

  • isay

    I agree, and thanks for saying it.

  • Sweetie

    There is no integrity in the closet.

    The only time it’s justifiable is in a society where gays are hunted and killed. Even then it takes brave people to put their lives on the line for positive change. It won’t happen otherwise.

  • Sweetie

    straw man

    Being honest about one’s orientation and inviting people to film them in the bedroom are two obviously different things.

  • Sweetie

    ah, the old “drama queen” “panties” attack

  • Sweetie

    Ad hominem doesn’t rebut ad hominem. It only adds to the noise level.

  • Sweetie

    Like the bodies of teen suicide victims?

  • Sweetie

    Completely wrong.

    Every gay person who hides in the closet sends a message of shame to the world.

  • Sweetie

    “Are there straight couples who pretend they’re not couples to ‘protect their privacy’?”

    Lots of them, but that’s known as having a mistress.

  • Sweetie

    “hiding your orientation is not a matter of privacy, its a matter of shame”


  • FLL

    You’ve put your finger on the crucial distinction. She’s gay, but she’s neither an activist nor politically supportive in any way, and I think there are a huge number of people like that.

  • sam_bone

    She never did that though. She did choose to defend Mel Gibson, who is a homophobic and anti-Semitic bigot.

  • sam_bone

    Then you would have to say the same thing about Angelina and Brad. It’s none of our business that they are a couple. They should hide it.

  • “we already know she’s one of us,” She’s gay, but not one of us.

  • Exactly.

  • Give it a rest, o bitter one.

  • Foster is an extraordinary, gifted and accomplished woman. Her private life is not a reality show.

  • Her sexuality is nobody’s GD business.

  • FLL

    She’s typical of a very large number of people. During eras that a even a little challenging, they are not part of the solution, but rather part of the furniture. There are hoards of people like that. During better times, like ours, they say, “Hooray, times are changing!” and they come out. No, people like that are not “Profiles in Courage,” but they serve a purpose in spite of their timidity in the face of challenge.

  • “ignore the vultures but answer the question when it’s relevant.” But. always carry some chum to distract them.

  • Houndentenor

    Jodie Foster has always been famous. Because her mother was taking her on auditions while she was still in diapers, she has no frame of reference for “not being famous”. She therefore feels very guarded about her privacy. That may come off as warped to us, and it probably is. But it’s the only thing she knows. She never officially came out but she hasn’t exactly been “in” either. There were no beards. I have friends who went to Yale with her. It was no secret that she was a Lesbian then and it never was in Hollywood. She just never had a press conference to announce that she is gay, and she’s never going to have one. It’s too bad she feels angry and defensive about people who would like her to make a more direct public statement. My guess is that since she was a teenager she’s been surrounded by PR people and agents who freaked out over every rumor or insinuation that she wasn’t heterosexual. That too would warp your sense of reality. And while it’s easy to judge, I’m not sure how I’d feel about fame and celebrity if a crazed fan had tried to kill a president to impress me. So I’m cutting her some slack. Oh, and this isn’t the first time she’s made reference to being gay. In 2007 she thanked her the-partner in an acceptance speech. As far as she’s concerned everyone knew. And didn’t they? Is anyone surprised?

  • yep……

  • The GLTBQ community has known for years…. no news here. But, thank you for ‘bubblefy’–a great term!

  • She can come out and keep on going for all it matters. PPPFFTTT!

  • Indigo

    She is single, she broke up with what’s-her-face. So okay, whatever, but we already know she’s one of us, but now we know more . . . she’s one of our more confused one-of-us. No slack!

  • slappymagoo

    Something else to ponder – maybe she never made her sexuality a big deal because she didn’t want to be the Hollywood Face of every gay issue. She didn’t want lazy or opportunistic reporters to demand an interview with her every time another actor or actress came out as if she were the representative of all matters gay. She didn’t want her kids getting asked what it’s like having 2 Moms (though I’m sure it happens, often, by people who should know better, which is everyone).

    Perhaps in a quiet understated way she’s contributed immensely to gay causes or charities but she didn’t want to make thing All About Her, partly to keep privacy and partly because maybe not everything should be About Her and she gets it.

    I agree it was an awkward speech, people who value privacy often are awkward when forced to talk about themselves. But a Lifetime Achievement Award is a moment that is indeed supposed to be about the person winning the award. And when you’re famous you do wind up in a bubble no matter how you try not to bubblefy yourself. So yeah, she yammered a bit. She was a bit self-gratifying. She wanted to express a thing she tried to keep guarded for decades in a way that also made clear “there, now, moving on…” and in so doing put some people off who wished she was more out-and-proud as well as probably a few anti-gay people who take the “See/Hear/Speak No Evil” head-in-the-sand approach to their enemies’ lists – “I let myself enjoy her work because I just didn’t know for sure what her deal was, but now that I know FOR SURE she’s gay, I can never watch Freaky Friday again!” But however better she could’ve possibly done it, at least it’s done. Whoop-de-doo. That and a second mortgage will get me a cup of coffee.

  • Major fail. All the reasons below and more. Frankly, those of us who came out before her should congratulate ourselves for creating the environment that let her come out last night. She should not congratulate herself because she has no clue about why people have come out and what it’s accomplished. I feel bad for her kids, I hope she hasn’t poisoned them on the idea of community and doing things for selfless reasons.

  • Randy

    So the next time that California votes on gay rights, she’ll actually be supportive, right?

  • Randy

    If privacy is you main concern in life, then find a profession that gives you privacy. If earning millions of dollars and landing big movie roles is your main concern, then you understand that prying into your life is part of the expectations.

    You always have choices, and if you make your choice then don’t complain about. Especially when you have millions to comfort you.

  • jomicur

    This “privacy” argument has never made any sense to me. Knowing that Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie are a couple invades their privacy how, exactly? Are there straight couples who pretend they’re not couples to “protect their privacy”? If you love someone and feel the need to hide it, you’re being a coward; pretending your concern is privacy is an insulting evasion. And for that matter, are there single straight people who won’t admit they’re straight out of a concern for privacy? The moment you refuse to talk about your sexuality out of a “concern for privacy,” you’re effectively admitting you’re gay. What on earth keeps celebrities like Foster (who is certainly smart enough to know better) from realizing that and dropping all the games?

  • dula

    I always gave Jodi a pass for keeping her sexuality private because she never dragged around any men in order to present as hetero and never courted the paparazzi in order to promote anything while complaining they were stalking her. She maintained integrity. She didn’t need to “come out” last night unless she wanted to and it seems she didn’t really want to. A simple thanks to co-parent /ex partner would have done the trick.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I love all the work she did to earn those co-parenting rights she’s been sucking down for years. Sorry to disagree, but I regard her a self-centered parasite.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I find it completely predictable that you race to your computer to defend the cowering closet case.

  • Skeptical Cicada


    “Privacy,” the whine of the self-hater.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I found her offensive. Did she enjoy sucking down those co-parenting rights while sitting in her closet and doing nothing?

  • quark

    I’m waiting for the same tsk-tsk-tsk crowd to get their panties in a wad because someone failed to come out as heterosexual.

    Unless Foster wants it to be our business — it is none of our business.

  • Steve_in_CNJ

    I think the way you do it is to NOT wait for your lifetime achievement award to be affirming of your gay orientation. By then it’s going to be awkward no matter how you do it. As John says, ignore the vultures but answer the question when it’s relevant.

  • FLL

    She has her own style. Nothing at all wrong with that. I’m sure there wasn’t anyone in that audience who didn’t understand that she was talking about her sexual orientation. Yes, I understand that she’s not Dan Savage. Dan Savage is a prince among men, but not everyone has the rare ability to inspire entire generations of people that Dan does. Jodie Foster has been putting out for the public since the age of three, and I’m inclined to cut her some slack, even if her style is a little idiosyncratic. She certainly accepts the fact that the times are changing, as you can note in her speech:

    “This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else… Change—you gotta love it.”

  • caphillprof

    From IMBD: “Made an acceptance speech at a breakfast for Hollywood Reporter’s Women
    in Entertainment, where she paid tribute to her longtime companion Cydney Bernard, ending all speculations about her sexual orientation (December 2007).”

  • S1AMER

    I think it’s pathetic, after all these years, that more than a few people can’t find a better use of their time than yet again kicking around Jodie Foster. Jeez …

  • lilyannerose

    Jodie has always been the (ouch let me think of the right word) “individual.” Lately when she has put herself out there to the public it has been a strong defense of people she cares about. She very much defended Mel Gibson – whatever your feelings about Gibson after that drunken tirade – she spoke out because she’s a loyal friend and I respect that quality. She wrote a public letter regarding Kirsten Stewart after that very public battering Stewart took over that “affair.” Apparently she and Stewart have a close mother/daughter relationship. Jodie seems to be a real mama grizzly when it comes to the media and the harm they do to those she cares about. Her brother outed her decades ago in a book so it’s no secret she’s gay. I have no doubt if one she cared about was taking a media battering about being gay that she would grab the first microphone she saw and would come out like no one came out before.

  • Butch

    So she faltered some because it can be a difficult thing to talk about under any circumstances; I have no idea how I’d do with TV cameras pointed at me. Give her a break.

  • dcinsider

    Jodi, want some cheese with that whine? At this point I really don’t care about her as much as she cares about herself. She’s selfish. She’s self-absorbed. Normal traits for a movie star. There are a lot of positive role models for gay kids today. She’s not one of them. I respect her desire for privacy, but hiding your orientation is not a matter of privacy, its a matter of shame. She needs to grow up.

  • ronbo

    She is a worthy role model. While times have changed, and the new generations have also changed, she maintains the ideals in which she was born. It’s a generational thing. My parents knew I was gay, accepted my spouse and supported my every action, without once being told that I was gay. The important people know, the accepting people accept and the bigots grumble.
    Having said that, knowing the importance of visability, I’m out. Do I regret not making the issue with my parents when they lived? It would not have made a difference. However, I know that a life lived in fear is only half-lived. I should have been brave enought to tell them.

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