"Trust me, 47 years in the film business is a long time," said Jodie Foster when she accepted her Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes in 2013. She should know. Foster made her acting debut in a Coppertone commercial when she was just three.
I think it's the obligation of gay people to say that whether Manti's actions were the result of extreme sexual naiveté or an attempt to mask his lack of pro athlete hyper-heterosexual, these are patterns that are common in our community.
Jodie Foster's words really affected this over-40 actor who has felt the sting of not being the actor industry folks cast in roles that my straight counterparts get to play all the time. She made me feel less alone as an Out and not-so-young-anymore performer.
I've never been Jodie Foster. I can't say what she should have done in her circumstances -- I've never been there, nor have any of her critics. They never experienced the life she lived. What audacity to lecture her, for not living their life!
Why did Foster use this platform, this symbolically terminal moment in her career, to address her sexuality? Why expose herself (and make her publicist "nervous") if only to be defensive? Why give us what she suspects we wanted and then criticize us for wanting it?
You were at best insensitive and at worst clueless, self-absorbed and condescending in the way you spoke about the out gay men and women -- many of whom are your fans -- who are largely responsible for your ability to stay in the closet and become an award-winning actor and director.
The reason I respect Foster is because she used her speech to defend her right to protect her and her family's privacy. She hasn't kept quiet specifically about her sexuality all these years; she's simply not comfortable with the idea of laying out her private life in the public domain.
"I am gay" or "I am a lesbian" may be the prototypical realization of the coming-out speech act, against which all other coming-out speech acts are judged. However, does this mean that it is not a coming out if the individual does not utter the words "I am gay" or "I am a lesbian"?
She took a stand for herself and at the same time said what I interpreted as a "f#@% you" to those who think that it was somehow her responsibility to declare her sexual orientation publicly. As she said in her speech, she had been out for years to those who matter and never hid who she is.
For the first part of our lives, homosexuality was defined as a mental disorder. We watched AIDS devastate an entire population and listened to "respected" experts denigrate gays. Jodie, I and other late bloomers are slightly damaged, but we're doing the best we can. Give us a break.
We assume that public figures should automatically use the platform that comes with their celebrity status. We believe that they owe it to us to utilize their voices for agendas that we might share, and we get disappointed and angry when they don't. It's easy to forget that they are human.
Yes, she came out in a bigger way than ever before, but at the same time this was about her, not our community. It was her way of doing it, not ours. The award she accepted was for her career achievements, not for our community.
Each of us has our own story of dealing with shame, fear, and betrayal for being who we are. Each of us carries scars of wounds we've received for opening that closet door. No one can tell you how to deal with that past. Nor should anyone tell you how to come out of that closet.
What I got was a woman who realizes that professionally she has achieved it all. There are no more mountains to climb unless she really, really wants to scale another show biz Everest. And she might. Or not.