14 January 2013

There's Out and There's Out

Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? I could not resist the lure of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting, and they did not disappoint me.

But what I really want to write about is Jodie Foster.

Despite all the raves on Twitter about her coming out, I was unimpressed by her rambling speech. First, I thought she'd already come out via an acceptance speech about 5 years ago in which she thanked her then partner now "co-parent." Anyway, in light of that, it seemed odd to play it up with the presumably faux-nervous lead-in and bait & switch.

I didn't want a big coming out speech. I just wanted her to say, "I'm gay" or "I'm a lesbian" or some variation thereof with the same enthusiasm as she said, "I'm 50!" (Nice nod to Molly Shannon's character from SNL that no one in the audience seemed to get.)

Anderson Cooper's coming out letter last year came to mind. In it he talked about how he didn't want his sexuality to affect his work but realized that his silence over time was giving the impression that he was ashamed or otherwise not OK with being gay which is not the case. It was a good letter.

I tried to figure out why Jodie's speech was bothering me. It hit me today when I remembered that when you're pointing your finger at someone else, you're pointing three at yourself.

We have some things in common. I'm not straight either, though I consider myself bisexual rather than lesbian. I am, despite possible appearances on the blog, a private person too. In the past I often said, "If a person doesn't have the courage to ask me if I'm not straight, they aren't ready to hear the answer." Of course, they could have just been respecting my privacy by waiting for me to tell them. What business is it of most people's anyway? It's just one aspect of many about me.

Without her fame, I've done things somewhat out of order. Close friends first, then the entire audience at a film school screening who made the assumption based on my movie. To be fair, I showed the film to my family first to start a dialogue to come out to them, but they did not make the leap or didn't acknowledge it at any rate. Maybe they weren't ready in 1996.

Then there were more people I met and then the internet. Oh, and then my immediate family finally in 2009. There are still people I know in real life who don't know, but it's not like I have any context for bringing it up. There's no one to introduce them to and we don't talk about their romantic lives, so why bother? I suppose I could be prouder.

I'm tired of coming out speeches too (even the super short variety), but likely have more in my future without an international audience of millions.

As Jodie said, she's 50. Eleven years older than me with a career that started when she was 3. She grew up in the heyday of being gay and playing gay killing your Hollywood career. I get it.

What I hope she gets is that her coming out in 2013 is not much about her personally but rather the visibility she adds as someone gay and successful to a group with so many who struggle (to get through the day, to be married, to have equal rights under the law...). I just want to know that her desire for privacy won't keep her from being on our side. For fuck's sake, she has Mel Gibson's back for some reason, so I hope she'll have ours. Hmm, that doesn't sound as ideal as I meant.

And now off the lgbt for a moment but back to the speech:

Did anyone else find it strange how many contradictions there were?

Her quote which they started her life's work montage with was about how being normal is to be avoided and yet, due to early and enduring fame, she has spent her life trying to have one that is normal. That's why she values her privacy so much. But then she wants to be "deeply known."

I'm often ambivalent myself, so I suppose I can understand these dichotomies. I'm a private person and yet I blog to put myself out there, to connect with people. I relinquish some privacy to do that. Perhaps that's Jodie's struggle to a degree: to connect and be known but not tabloid fodder.

Despite your oblique approach to coming out all these years, congratulations, Jodie Foster. It does me good to see you loud and proud.

4 years ago on TTaT: In the mail...


  1. Nice post. Yeah, I think her speech was missing the "here's what this means to people who aren't me" component. It felt strangely self-absorbed. Yes, she's had to fight for privacy, but she pretty much WON that fight. She's been here, she's been queer and we were all used to it. Jennifer Aniston's fetus has much more cause for complaint.

    1. Thanks. And yes, that, exactly, "the people who aren't me component." I feel like she'd already won the privacy battle too, but the war is probably more continuous than we're aware of. Either way, people certainly know she's obsessive about it.

      I also wonder how relevant her diatribe is for people 15+ years younger than me. They are less likely to remember a time before any media representation of lgbt characters or before celebs were out and accepted. Or what it was like when Jodie Foster was growing up AND working, and that a nut shot the president to get her attention back in the day. That's going to make you value privacy.

      I do think she missed the boat a bit with her comment on people expecting official coming out announcements these days. AfterEllen.com had an article on it a few years ago citing Lindsay Lohan (oh, Lindsay) and her girlfriend at the time. No speeches, no announcements, they were just out in life.

  2. It was really all over the place. I am a big fan of Jodie but was totally baffled by the speech and her friendship with Mel Gibson (did you catch the look on his face when they panned to him and she complimented him?). There was a lot of speculation and confusion on Twitter as she gave the speech. A friend of mine is friends with Jodie and he said something like, "that's the Jodie I know and love" and I was all- is she drunk or something? The part about saying goodbye to her mom (it felt like) and the co-parent thing along with the pre-rambling about how her publicist was going to freak out...totally strange from start to finish!

    1. AK and I decided she does drama well, comedy maybe not so much.

      The look on Mel Gibson's face was "I'm trying to be supportive of my kinda weirdo friend because she supported me at the heights of my own weirdness." I guess that's what friends are for?

    2. I thought Mel just looked surprised the whole time. I did read some of Jodie's comments from the after interviews and she's definitely big with the loyalty to friends no matter how crazy they get. Remember how hot Mel used to be? Ah, the old days.

      The more I think about it, the more I think, "Yeah, I could give as rambling and awkward a speech with jokes that fall flat because everyone takes me so seriously." So I sympathize.

      And, yeah I thought her mom was in a coma or something. It does in its own odd way seem like her though. An I'll concede that I'm gay to a huge audience but with a bit of a fuck you thrown in.

      @Cheryl I think that's about right. They are a strange grouping: Jodie, Downey, and Mel. Deer in headlights look perhaps.