Monday, January 14, 2013

The brave one

Hard as it may be to believe, I won’t remember the 70th annual Golden Globes Awards for my beloved Tina Fey. Or Amy Poehler. Or Sofia Vergara’s golden globes. I mean, sure, they were all spectacular. And Tina and Amy should host everything ever always. Period. Full stop. But what I will remember and still can’t stop thinking about is the amazing acceptance speech and coming out of Jodie Foster. It was extraordinary on so many levels, none the least of which being that I never, ever, not in a million years thought it would happen.

Certainly, we all knew already. I knew as a young girl when I looked at an also young Jodie Foster in all her triumphant tomboy glory and felt that unspoken kinship. And I knew after whispers on “The Accused.” And I knew when I made her my very first Weekend Crush. And I knew in 2007, when she thanked “my beautiful Cydney” in another, less public, award acceptance speech. And I knew yesterday. And I know today.

Yet even without every saying “Yep, I’m gay,” Jodie’s very real, sometimes raw and even a little defiant admission of her personal and private truth was wonderful. Sure, some have groused that it was a little vague. Though I have no idea how calling her former partner 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” in front of a viewing audience of more than 10 million people is in any way vague. Nor will we be deterred by her insisting that it isn’t a big coming out speech, in that strange bit of audio that got inexplicably cut: “I hope you guys weren't hoping this would be a big coming out speech tonight, because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the stone age.”

That’s not vague, that’s talking about what she never talks about. And you could tell, too, because boy was she nervous. And, if you think about it, weren’t we all? Weren’t we all that nervous and jumbled, maybe even more, when we finally said it even one person, let along the universe? Even if everyone already knew. Even if you should have said it ages ago. For me, that made it connect even more. The humanness of it. The honest struggle. For each person who comes out, no matter how long it takes or how many people already know, is a simple act of bravery.

The grumblers of the world of course immediately complained about why it took her so long. How others paved the way and she slid in at the end. But I believe firmly that every person should be allowed to come out at his or her own time, perhaps with a little appropriate prodding, but only when ready. And so each person who comes out counts, no matter how long it takes, and should be celebrated.

Others have questioned whether she was criticizing stars who are already out and/or slamming reality television. For the latter I say, I would much rather live in Jodie’s private world than Honey Boo Boo’s overexposed world. We can be truthful about ourselves without turning our every bowel movement into a news event. Celebrity culture is the real target here, and our insatiable desire to know every last bit of salacious minutiae about the unknowable.

As to the former, I do not believe she was swiping at the Ellens or Melissas or Martinas of the world in the least. Instead, in her own way, she was explaining her own path towards this very public moment. A path that we should not forget began in the spotlight at the age of 3 and involved a madman with a gun who shot the President of the United States just to get her attention. Her guarded nature, her insistence on privacy, you can understand why those would be the bedrock of her very core. And, let us also not forget, that at 50 – that age she repeatedly told us she is – she comes from a different generation where baby doll rainbow flag T-shirts weren’t sold at Hot Topic.

So now what? I hope Jodie feels good about what happened. Relieved and proud and hopeful about her next era. I hope she knows how much it meant, even if it took so long and we all already knew. A two-time Oscar winner and bona fide Hollywood icon doesn’t come out as family every day. But, unlike her, I have no fear that anyone will every forget that “Jodie Foster was here.” You are seen, you are more understood and you are not alone. We are all here, with you.

p.s. Sweetie, trust me, with those arms you certainly won’t be single long.

34 comments:

Emily said...

Thank you, Dorothy. You have summed it up so beautifully. I knew you would have the most thoughtful, measured response of all the bloggers out there who'd be addressing this topic. You have expressed exactly what I was thinking. Thank you so much for your words.

Shelby said...

Thank you for being one of those that 'gets it'. That understands some times the poetry of that moment is standing in a huge room of people while Clinton gets elected and screaming it from the roof tops and sometimes if from a personally quieter woman saying it with almost poetic prose. I wish the community as a whole was a thoughtful as you in this moment.

Lindsay Leggett said...

I didn't get a chance to watch them live, but this speech brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful.

Kristan Hoffman said...

From Twitter:

"Rachel Syme ‏@rachsyme
Why was I incredibly confused and then moved and then scared by and then turned on by and then saddened by that. IS THAT WHAT ART IS?"

Yeah. Ditto.

***

(And btw, that line of audio wasn't blocked out for me, but some other random seconds were, sprinkled a few times throughout the night. Plus there were lots of times I could hear audience chatter as loud as the presenters. So I'm guessing just general audio glitching?)

-Lisa said...

Well said. So many people have said her speech was rambling and confusing, but I think it was perfect. I think viewers were just confused because it was so unexpected. I really do hope Jodie does feel more understood and truly less lonely.

Anonymous said...

As usual, beautifully and perfectly said. Thanks.

E.T. said...

All this palpable nervousness made for a perfectly imperfect speech. If only she could read your words D...for I suspect there are a lot of people that were awed and moved and like me gave her a big mental hug :) Cheers to a magnificent lady.

Joanna Eleftheriou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I felt the speech gave me a chance to understand how Jodie thinks. She values family and loyalty and privacy.
Was her speech courageous? On a personal level I suppose but IMO it didn't rate up their with women who risked there career to very publicly come out when they did. But I have to say was never clear why she was getting an award at 50 - that's midlife not a lifetime achievement moment. Yes she is an accomplished and brave performer and a role model of a gutsy actress for that she does indeed deserve awards which she has won already. I do admire her.

Maya said...

Beautiful post which really puts this in perspective.

Foster grew up in the public eye, I'm two years younger than she is, I can say first hand that it was a very different world back then.

You nailed it with this line "she comes from a different generation where baby doll rainbow flag T-shirts weren’t sold at Hot Topic. "

Indeed.

Thank you for this very thoughtful essay.

Hanna said...

So great!! I have been glowing and smiling all day. (If only she had said, that she loved your blog...then we would have gotten a full-body picture of yours..;-))
Thank you so much for your post, it says everything that needs to be said.

KeL said...

This is tHE BEST article I have read in ages! It states and addresses every single relevant point and I couldn't agree more. Chapeau to Jodie and to the writer :)

rousefolle said...

great post by You, MS Snarker and perfect speech by Ms Foster.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for putting into words what I could not. I completely agree with everything you said. I'm a bit older than Jodie and she's almost always been on my radar. It's hard to describe the horror and shock of the shooting to impress her and how that would affect anyone. I was moved by her speech and I'm moved by your words as well.

Betty said...

This is why I keep returning to your blog, and have been doing so for many years now!
The piece is written with insight and empathy, and understanding!

God knows Ms Foster has been receiving a lot of shit over the years for not being as out as many would like her to be. But we all have a right to decide when the time is, and I guess it felt right now.

And it’s strange, because now I feel a strange kind of kinship with Ms Foster, against all odds. She’s an actress, producer and a public figure who have appeared onscreen for 47 years. And still she channels much of the same nervousness as I feel when I know I’m gonna have to come out. She’s only human, and she’s talking of something private and personal and the emotions shine through. And I love her even more for it.

Anonymous said...

Love that woman. And now that she's single again... ;)

Ace said...

Snarker, this is why I want to write like you when I grow up (even though we're roughly the same age, I believe.) You do a hell of a job cutting through the bullshit and getting to the heart of a controversy. So, yay you! And yay Jodie Foster for an honest, touching, very public moment last night.

Joana Bueno said...

she's amazing. coming out 'to everyone she actually met'. sure. why would she have to come out to those she doesn't know? it is less about being gay as it is about being private. best speech ever!

heidi said...

Thank you for writing about this, the speech was remarkable and I cannot stop thinking about it either. She is a legend and an icon, but so human, so easy to identify with. Wow.

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Gina Ray said...

thanks u jodie... ur amazing :)

Anonymous said...

In addition to all the great things Jodie expressed, I found her to be courageous for saying the one word that I can't. Lonely.

Anonymous said...

what? are u kidding me? that speach was sure honest, but extreamly unsympathetic an disrespectful to open gays in show biz.

btw jane lynch is also around 50.

Janie said...

I live in Switzerland and she was on the front page of the daily free newspaper with a full-page photo and the simple declaration "Lesbian". I hadn't seen the awards nor heard about her speech before I saw this paper. And yet I was struck because her speech was amazing. Her words rang so true and showed her human-side, her children's pride and talked about her life in the public eye. However, for me, the distillation of this speech by way of my local newspaper was a simple label -- Lesbian. A simple box. A simple label. That defines as much as it confines -- in the world of Hollywood. I understood immediately why she waited to make such a public declaration. It completely breaks my heart to hear she is lonely!

So thank you for your analysis Ms. Snarker. You are always wise and thoughtful. What I have been thinking about was did it or how did it matter to me-- since i/we (all) "knew". What is the importance of a figure like her, who seems to have been privately out for such a long time, to become publicly out? It is just simply the satisfaction that i/we were right? We knew? That we can add one more hottie to the Lesbian Top 100? I mean, she has always been a role model and she has always been a part of the Lesbian community's wink-wink, nudge-nudge. And she always created another voice in the timing of coming-out. And I guess this is what has been interesting for me "since the big reveal".

Anyway, great post, as always and I am so proud of her and hope that she find some happiness and joy. And a new lover!!!! I would be happy to apply.... ;)

Anonymous said...

I love her but this is crazy.

Michelle said...

I can't help but think that this speech has been really misunderstood. In several articles and posts I've read about this people are saying things like "hugs to you, Jodie," "we understand you," "we love you," etc. I think her point was that she's not particularly interested in your hugs, understanding and love, because she doesn't know you. I picture her doing a facepalm or two.

People, and specifically celebrities, have different reasons for coming out or not coming out in a public way, and it doesn't necessarily have to do with age. Ellen is almost 55, no? She wants her viewers to feel as though she's their bff, so she tweets and puts everything all out there. Jodie does not want to create that illusion, so she stays private. I admire them both. I just think they have very different personalies and motivations.

To me this is the point of the speech: I don't owe you anything, any explainations, because you are not my friends.

Kelly said...

I, too, thank you for writing this post. I cried while watching Jodie's speech, because it was obviously difficult for her; she seemed more vulnerable during that time than I had ever seen. It saddens me that so many in our "community" are criticizing her for doing what each of us should do: following her heart and trusting herself in coming out the way that was right for her. Somehow, I knew that you would get it right.

feisty-old-fashioned-lesbian-feminist said...

Well, if you have room for a contrarian point of view on Jody Foster's Golden Globe speech, the one part I respected was how she stood up for her right to NOT participate in celebrity culture. But please don't confuse her stance on that with the related, but separate issue of her decades of ongoing decisions NOT to be out of the closet as a well-known actress. Overall, I found her speech to be sadly ego-centered, but far more disappointingly---very unconnected and oblivious to the critical issues of the day for lesbians and the LGBT community generally. I question her apparent failure (still) to connect the dots on the fact that as a public figure (and someone who profits enormously from being a public figure), there are inextricable POLITICAL impacts upon the LGBT community that resulted from her decision to remain "private" for all those many years. This leads to her unavoidable complicity in having helped nourish some of the homophobic cultural prejudices out there in the world at large. In other words, for the sake of her personal comfort zone, she remained closeted and thus fed the myth that there must be something to be ashamed of for a famous, talented actress in being an out lesbian. For that long-term decision she consistently made multiple times, I think she deserves continuing legitimate, albeit respectful, criticism from her peers based on my perspective as a progressive feminist and a lesbian (who is BTW, quite a few years older than she is). Because Foster is and has been a very privileged public figure, and is also extremely privileged economically, I simply can’t admire her for prioritizing her personal comfort zone over the overridingly more important cause of doing her bit for social, political and cultural progress. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!!

Michelle said...

@feisty, I believe that Jodie's position as a public figure and an economically advantaged woman should not equal a loss of her right to self-determination. Still, the "personal is political" ideology has some merit and I understand the point you're making.

However, it seems a wild stretch to assign complicity in fomenting homophobia to a celebrity who has never (to my knowledge, which admittedly may be faulty) lied about being a lesbian or actively worked against the LGBT community. And, there are ways to contribute to "social, political and cultural progress" other than assertively outing oneself; your condemnation of Jodie seems not to take into consideration the significant impact one may have in these areas by living one's life quietly, with integrity, and demonstrating respect, generosity and love for others.

noho said...

Jodie owes us nothing. It pisses me off this whole attitude of entitlement. She doesn't belong to us. She's not responsible for us or to us. Everybody knows she a lesbian [just look at that 2006 Weekend Crush] and she's never denied it. But so what if she had denied it? It's her life, get it? HER life. Not a reality show or a parade or a political platform. Her LIFE. Go ahead and be as mad at her as you want to be because you're disappointed in how she's chosen to live her life. Then go and live your own damn life.

Anonymous said...

Fiesty, your insistence that JF is 'privileged' strikes me as a less than charitable or accurate characterisation. Foster, as she pointed out was put to work as a child of four and has rarely been out of the public eye since then. She has made money indeed but on the back of huge talent, intellect and hard work. She is one of the most powerful women in Hollywood and by breaking into that once all male, all white club she did a great deal to allow other women, not just lesbians, women to also make their way into areas where they could influence and direct the output of the largest media factory in the world. She did this without recourse to any group, or special interest and just got on with it. She didn't deny anyone she just didn't answer questions she didn't want to answer but went on acting, directing and producing movies and trying to have a private life she could call her own. I am almost disappointed that she has now felt the need to 'come out' in this fashion as I respected the hell out of her strength of character to not feel pressured to jump one way or the other but to say this is my life and none of your business! Living in a free society means you don't get to shame or bully someone into doing what you want them to do just because it suits your ends.

Katie said...

You said this better than I did: http://katieeverybody.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-jodie-foster_16.html

...and you said to a much wider audience. Thank you, because it needed to be said.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying it so well. As for Jodie not saying those two very powerful and personal words, 'I'm gay', that may come in time. It can be scary to say out loud to yourself, let alone to the public. We saw the pictures of her and Cydney. Wasn't really in the closet. Therefore I can only think that this has been an internal struggle for her. Hoping she remains open with it and doesn't shy away when asked to discuss it. I was so proud of her and happy for her that night. This isn't about us. This is about Jodie. And for us to see it any other way is selfish.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share...