NYC's gay community hails Jodie Foster's speech
It's about time!
Jodie Foster's odd, cryptic, nearly seven minute speech at the Golden Globes Sunday night -- in which she copped to being single, 50 years old, and the co-parent of two boys with her female ex-partner -- inspired yawns and smiles in New York's gay community.
"I don't know anyone in the lesbian community who doesn't know Jodie Foster is gay. What would have been a shock is if she said she's straight," said Lisa Meno, 42, a Foster fan and bar manager from SoHo.
Many lesbians were gratified by the context in which the mother of two sons mentioned producer Cydney Bernard, "one of the deepest loves of my life -- my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most beloved BFF for 20 years," as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille award.
Yes, Foster may have skipped a step and jumped over the whole, "I'm gay" moment, but her reference to her ex was music to the ears of lesbians. To have a major star acknowledge, "You can have a family! Myself, growing up, I never knew that lesbians could have families ... It's refreshing, inspirational and reassuring," said Noelle Pollina, 36, a bartender at Henrietta Hudson's in Greenwich Village.
Foster had thanked "my beautiful Cydney" in 2007 while accepting the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award during a breakfast held by the group Women in Entertainment, which many people took to be a public admission of her orientation.
But seeing a glamorous star on a national stage in a televised event acknowledge a same-sex partner will be a comfort to young people anxious about coming out and demolish stereotypes straight people may have, said Pollina. "Gay people don't have a 'look.' They really don't," she said.
But Foster's statement "is not as meaningful now as it would have been when it was a dangerous career move," observed Somjen Frazer, president of Strength in Numbers Consulting, a Brooklyn-based research group that advises progressive nonprofits. Ellen DeGeneres coming out as gay in 1997 was a much gutsier move, said Frazer, who identifies as queer. In 2013, the 50-year-old Foster publicly stating that she's shared her life with a woman is less likely to damage her professional prospects, Frazer said. It's Foster's age, Frazer added, that's the bigger obstacle: "It's really hard to be over 50 and a woman working in Hollywood. That's the most challenging issue."
Frazer postulated that many LGBTQ people will empathize with Foster's desire for privacy, considering that she was stalked numerous times by different disturbed men, most famously by John Hinckley, who shot president Ronald Reagan and three other men in 1981 in a demented bid for her attention.
Mainstream gay organizations expressed pleasure at Foster's speech.
The actor's acknowledgment of her identity and relationships on a world stage "shows just how much the tide has turned," Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said in a statement. "As more and more high-profile LGBT people like Jodie speak openly, those who do not accept LGBT people will continue to fall behind the times."
"It was awkward. It was inarticulate. It was beautiful," just like many other coming out declarations to loved ones, said Fred Sainz, a vice president for the Human Rights Campaign. Coming out is an incredibly personal decision that should not be dictated by the desires of others, continued Sainz, who praised Foster for doing so "on her own terms. She wanted (her orientation) to be a footnote as opposed to a headline," just as most people wish to be known for their actions and not their orientations, he said.
Gay visibility aside, Sainz noted that the speech was important for showing how exes can regard each other with fondness rather than acrimony once they have parted romantic ways. That "was wonderful for her children (Charlie, 14, and Kit, 11) who were there," said Sainz, who could relate: "That's where I fall: My ex is my best friend," he said.