Jodie Foster came out during Sunday night's Golden Globes telecast, and depending on whom you ask, it was either a success or an epic fail. Immediately after her speech, my Twitter timeline and Facebook news feed were overloaded with thoughts on what she said (or what she didn't say). Even I jumped into the fray with a comedic tweet about how this news was really going to mess with John Hinckley, Jr.'s head. By Monday morning, LGBT bloggers were all weighing in with their opinions. Some were congratulating her, but others were condemning her. Regardless of how you feel about the situation, one thing is for sure: Foster's coming out has been pored over to the point where the analysis has overshadowed the actual event itself.
The biggest complaint that I've heard is "too little, too late." For years there has been speculation about Jodie Foster's sexuality, and for some she was about 10 to 15 years late with her declaration. The fact that she kept this part of her life hidden from public view has been deemed cowardly. I've also read that she did a disservice to other gay and lesbian actors who are fearful of coming out, by opting to stay in the closet for all these years while she was hard at work with her acting and directing careers. Well, we heard it straight from the source: Jodie doesn't think she has been in the closet, because she came out to those near and dear to her quite some time ago. She doesn't subscribe to the same school of thought that the rest of our society has gotten caught up in -- you know, that one that states that all celebrities must make every moment of their life available for public consumption. When you think about it, by no means does she owe anybody an explanation, but she was gracious enough to give one. Her reasoning should be good enough for all of us. The militants need to let it go.
Sometimes we put public figures under a different microscope. We assume that they should automatically use the built-in platform that comes along with their celebrity status. We believe that they owe it to us to utilize their voices for agendas that we might share through a common bond, and that they should do so without fear and abandonment. It's great if they do, but our society tends to get disappointed and angry when these people don't answer the call to arms. It's easy to forget that they are human. Perhaps now is the time to remember how personal and difficult the coming-out process can be. For most of us, it was something that took place in stages. I remember my own nervous declaration to my mother and a few close friends shortly before my 18th birthday. It was a small step in a very long journey. Sure, it felt great, but at that time I still was not ready to be out and proud amongst my co-workers, my classmates, other relatives or even strangers. I needed more time and growth before that happened. Jodie Foster probably had a similar road to travel before reaching the level of comfort where she was able to address her sexual orientation to a room full of her peers, as well as the millions of people watching the telecast.
Truthfully, I didn't think it was the most graceful speech I'd ever heard. There were a few awkward moments where Foster made Anne Hathaway look like she has a master's in public speaking. But again, this was a public coming out. Foster reminded those of us who are years beyond this process just how nerve-racking it can be when you are revealing something this personal about yourself. It was a human moment for her, and for that she should be applauded.
We will never know for sure why Jodie Foster took so many years to publicly acknowledge what we've suspected for years. Maybe she was more concerned with raising her kids. Perhaps she was focused on her career. Or maybe she just didn't feel comfortable with a public declaration until this past Sunday. Regardless, it was a monumental event in LGBT history. We shouldn't forget that. I'm sure there are some impressionable kids who are trying to come to terms with their sexual identities who were watching her that night. Hopefully, in that one moment, they felt less fearful about being who they are and realized that they are not alone. That should make all the years we waited for Jodie to publicly join our ranks worth the wait.
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