Monday, January 14, 2013

I don't know guys, I thought Jodie Foster's coming out speech was rather beautiful. Maybe that was because for me it was contextualized by Dorothy Surrenders' comparison to a lesbian coming out in front of her family and friends, awkwardly rambling through a very important point that she had to make. And I think people's negative response also comes from a deep lack of understanding of what Jodie Foster's life must have been, which I think also relates to people's intense denial about the anti-gay sentiment that has pervaded Hollywood throughout her whole career, and which continues to prevent scores of gay Hollywood actors from coming out. I mean, how can someone not sympathize what it must have been like to grow up on film, to begin to realize one's sexuality, and then to receive enormous amounts of pressure (surely both external and internal) not to reveal these truths to an American audience. To be taught that, "this is how it is done," compartmentalizing your personal and professional life, to maintain a public image of yourself that is vastly different from your reality. To be recognized by a small, aggressive minority community who sought to force you to stand up as an activist and be the first major female celebrity to come out of the closet in the history of film. Because for those of you who haven't read the film history, such luminaries as Greta Garbo and Barbara Stanwyck were queer, but never "came out," and to the end of her life Barbara Stanwyck refused to make a statement about her sexuality. When the gay community demanded that Foster be the first starlet to officially come out, such behavior was unheard of. How can we fault her for not being the one to develop the roadmap for the public "coming out"? Would you have been so brave? And then, to watch the world begin to change, as new generations embraced their ambiguous sexualities (because I must emphasize that to this day, Lindsay Lohan is the only woman playing romantic lead roles who has engaged in a homosexual relationship, and even that activity was weirdly not fully acknowledged by the public- probably because she too never made a statement). But anyway, Foster did watch the development of a language for publicly coming out, and from her last two awkward award speeches, it is clear how deeply she does wish to come out of the closet to the world. Which, is really beautiful, and speaks to the importance of acknowledging to the world who you truly are and how you live your life. Despite effectively maintaining her privacy for her entire life, Foster wants to be seen and loved for who she is. She even stated how lonely it was, and implied that her mother could not accept her sexuality. She referred to her publicist being upset at her making a statement, which may have seemed offhand but I'm sure actually characterized a deep pressure against revealing her lifestyle, and a behemoth effort on the part of a publicist to keep Foster's clearly homosexual life out of the tabloids. I mean, the woman raised two goddamn kids with the hyphenated name of her lesbian partner, somebody was working hard to keep that private. Anyway, now she is finally choosing to make a statement, and she is a bit defensive and defiant about waiting until now, which is the reason for her defensive tone and jabs at reality television. That is just her being human and honest, probably a bit too human and honest to be palatable, and of course I also wonder why she didn't prepare a more coherent speech. But that was her rambling, defensive, sad coming out speech, and to criticize it is like tearing apart that eighteen year old girl at the dinner table, struggling to identify herself to her family despite both her personal fears and the clear messages she has received about the unacceptable nature of being a lesbian. Times one million.