Here's the beauty of it: There was nothing unusual about what she said. On the same night, at the same event, Adele, in her acceptance speech for the award for Best Original Song, referred to her special someone and their child. Jodie Foster did the very same thing!
Coming out is a personal journey that is unique to the individual. In fact, why does anyone really need to come out publicly at all? Why is it anyone's business but one's own? It has taken me years to realize that it is not up to me to tell someone how and when to come out.
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!
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.
Yes, she has a right to come out as she wishes, but she also has it in her to be bigger than that, to contribute what she knows about loneliness and hurt to benefit kids who don't have the love of friends and family, and she chose this awards show, this platform, to obfuscate once again.
What seems to draw many gay people to celebrity culture is the skill that both gays and celebrities must cultivate to navigate between privacy and disclosure under the watchful eye of strangers. And if there's one thing LGBT people should agree on, it's the importance of compassion.
"I'm proud of my family. I'm not ashamed of any relationship I've ever had, even the mistakes. And if I'd gotten the 'gay' word out of the way, I probably could have helped us get where we are today a little faster. So I am sorry for being late to the party."
In her own awkward way, Foster let the world see that gay and lesbian people have loving, supportive families just like everyone else. A lot of us have great kids. Some of our relationships last a long time. Some end. It is another way that we are just like our non-gay friends.
Ms. Foster's speech was one given by a whole, complex human being -- a mother, a co-parent, an ex-wife, a daughter, a caregiver, a middle-aged adult -- not a one-dimensional poster child for any particular community. If people expected that from her, then that's their problem, not hers.
A lot of people will say that it was up to her when and where to come out, and they're absolutely right, but that still doesn't mean she wasn't a coward, and it doesn't change the fact that she could have helped millions of people by coming out years ago.