Photo By Paul Drinkwater/ NBCUniversal/ Getty Images
You call that a gay declaration? For someone supposedly making a coming-out speech Sunday, January 13, at the Golden Globes awards ceremony, lifetime achievement award winner Jodie Foster wasn't exactly out and proud.
Her bizarre and impenetrable blather on the podium got me angry enough to post at nowtoronto.com on Monday. Now that I've had time to give the issue further consideration, I'm even more outraged.
I've always believed that if every person hanging out in the closet came out, there would be a seismic shift in the political landscape when it comes to queer rights. But I've also allowed, taking into account the consequences for many, that people need to choose their own moment in their own time.
Most people, that is. Not major celebrities laden with privilege who have already won every award worth winning, have made their "I want to direct" fantasy come true and could make a huge difference by declaring who they are.
For a while, Foster was given a pass even by impatient queer activists like me. She'd been in the public eye since she was three, for starters, so she'd earned some privacy. And when John Hinckley attempted to assassinate then president Ronald Reagan mainly, according to the shooter, to get Foster's attention, it was easy to sympathize with her determination to keep her private and public lives separate. "See what being a celebrity gets you? Leave the poor woman alone."
But that was over 30 years ago. Since then, Foster's become one of the most powerful personalities in the entertainment world.
Then there was always the matter of losing acting roles. Can an openly gay actor ever have credibility playing a heterosexual? To which I counter, did Sean Penn not win an Oscar playing Harvey Milk?
And besides, what seemed to be one of the points of Foster's speech - as hard as they were to discern - was that she intends to retire as an actor. So let's ditch the "I'll never get cast again" argument.
In the age of Twitter, paparazzi and so-called citizen journalists wielding cellphones in hopes of catching megastars off guard, privacy is indeed at a premium. But fan attention is the price you pay for celebrity status.
Saying you're gay doesn't mean you lose your privacy. Foster could easily have been open and then been clear: "Now please leave me and my family alone." And she probably would have got what she wanted, given that Hollywood reporters have known for years that she's a dyke - as did the tabs in their heyday - and never reported it.
Underlying the whole affair is a deep homophobia, as if being identified as a lesbian were the worst thing that could happen to her. Foster's been in the closet for decades, and the fact that she looked like she was about to come out and then did so half-heartedly - if at all - only made matters worse. Better she just hadn't bothered.
As it is, she missed an opportunity to celebrate her career - and her life - in an affirming way that could have inspired queer people and been a game-changer in the minds of everybody else in America.
Really, if you're going to stand up for Mel Gibson, you can stand up for the LGBT community, too.