I watched Jodie Foster deliver her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes, and I was blown away by it. Then I went online and saw some of the nastiest, cattiest comments being made about her and the speech, comments from people who don't know her and apparently felt that the speech should have been about them or the LGBT community.
One woman thought that Foster had compared everyone's coming out to being like Honey Boo Boo. A respected member of the LGBT community felt that Foster had done a disservice to the LGBT community by not coming out sooner, and then by asking for privacy. He went on to paraphrase Harvey Milk, saying that Foster owed it to the young people of Montana to come out. Others felt that the speech was disjointed and should have been more precise, and one person questioned how she could thank Mel Gibson for anything. All these people apparently had no compunction about commenting on her personal life in a negative way, even though they don't know her. Many seemed to have waited for years for her to come out, but the fact is that she was out; if she wasn't, how would they have known that she was gay? She has thanked her partner in previous awards ceremonies and has never hidden her relationship from good friends and family, and she obviously has two beautiful children in what she called her own modern family in her Golden Globes speech.
I've only communicated with Jodie Foster once, and that was after she did the film Little Man Tate. At the time I worked for the National Association for Gifted Children, and we all felt that the film was brilliant and showed what life can be like for a very gifted child. I was asked to write a review of the film, and it was clear that she cared about the topic and handled it gracefully, like she seems to have handled her life.
My feelings toward Jodie Foster have always been feelings of respect for her as a major talent and as someone who is smart, creative, hardworking and very classy. I have always admired the fact that she has managed to be in Hollywood and the film industry for nearly 50 years and yet remained a down-to-earth, seemingly normal human being who is not caught up in the usual glitz of the film world. One had to admire how she managed to deal with John Hinckley, Jr.'s obsession with her and his attempt at assassinating President Reagan.
I actually admired her ability to maintain some sort of private life despite her fame. From friends who know her, I know that she has always been open about her life and the fact that she is a lesbian. Again, she has never hidden that from her good friends and family, so why are some people seemingly so upset now that she has made a bigger announcement but didn't feel the need, like the Lance Basses or other younger stars of today, to do it with a tell-all in People. She basically said that she doesn't feel that it is like a rite of passage to come out that way.
There are some members of the LGBT community who believe that because she is famous, she owed it to them to make this big announcement in a way that they would like, and to be a public role model. I think that as a lesbian who lives her life in a regular way, without hiding who she is but not making a big deal about it, she already is a role model. Why do some people think that her call for privacy, for some kind of private life, is offensive? Jodie Foster isn't in government, she doesn't pass laws, and she has never spoken out in a way to hurt the LGBT community. Rather, she managed to live openly in the Hollywood fishbowl in a dignified way.
I just listened to her speech again, and in my eyes it made her an even classier lady. 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. We don't have the right to expect that everything a public person does and says is all about us.