Jodie Foster and I were both born about 1,000 years ago, which makes us roughly the same age, although she is a bit older than I am. ("I'm 50!") She went on to become a famous movie star, and I became a famous writer, or I will be. (Power of positive thinking, people!) Anyway, because we share so much in common, it was no surprise to me that she waited to announce to the world that she is gay on her own terms and in her own time. We're both a product of our environments, and we're both late bloomers, so I'd like to clear up some of the misunderstandings that some of you have about Jodie and the coming-out party that she threw at the Golden Globes.
First, judge not lest ye be judged. How many times have we used this line on our evangelical brothers and sisters? Religious leaders, politicians and downright nasty people have been judging gays since the beginning of time, telling us that we were sinners destined for hell. Did you believe them? Did it feel wrong? Guess what: It is wrong here, too.
I have heard some of you say, "But she is a celebrity, and she should have come out sooner!" Last time I checked, the gay manual offered no official coming-out protocols based on occupation. We should work on getting that corrected for the next publication, but as it stands now, people do what they feel comfortable with. Jodie came out years ago to those whom she knew personally and trusted. When I sought counseling to help with coming out, my therapist told me to call a press conference and announce it to the world so that I could get it over with. Does that make sense? Of course it doesn't. My therapist actually told me to do the same thing that Jodie did: come out to people I love and feel comfortable with and progress at my own pace. As far as I'm concerned, the only people who should be forced out of their closets are bigoted politicians and religious leaders.
We have jobs and need to support our families. Gays can be fired in many U.S. states just for being gay. Jodie is no exception. Yes, she makes a lot more money than most of us do, but she also loves her job. She is her job. Hollywood is certainly not immune to typecasting. How many times have we heard comments about actors not being believable in a role because of who they are perceived to be?
I have also heard the complaint that she was not clear and did not use the "L" word. I actually heard her use the "L" word many times during her acceptance speech -- the "L" word being "love." She spoke about her love for her ex-partner, her love for her children, her love for her mother and heck, even her love for her crew. Oh, you probably thought that she should have said "lesbian." The LGBT rights movement is more about removing labels than imposing them, and at the foundation of that movement is the belief that we should have the right to love whom we choose. As for the supposedly rambling nature of her speech, when you announced your sexuality to billions of viewers, how clear were you?
I don't know Jodie personally, but as I said, we're practically the same age. For the first part of our lives, homosexuality was defined as a mental disorder. We both watched AIDS devastate an entire population and listened to vitriol spewed by "respected" experts denigrating gays. Jodie, I and a host of other late bloomers are slightly damaged, but we're doing the best we can. Give us a break. We're 50! Fifty years old!
William Dameron's personal blog is The Authentic Life.