In 2007, at a Women in Entertainment breakfast, Jodie Foster came out to the world by referring to her partner (or girlfriend or whatever, I don’t know what she prefers) of then 14 years, Cydney Bernard. During a seven-minute speech at tonight’s Golden Globe Awards, she also mentioned her producer ex, and people are considering it her coming out. Here’s gay authority Mike Signorile: [jump]
This is the first time she acknowledged her relationship with a woman on television, in front of a global audience, which is still courageous (Brave One joke placeholder), but maybe not quite the momentous occasion that people are making it out to be. Certainly, the content was eclipsed by the delivery, which immediately announced itself as messy when Foster opened with a half-hearted impression via a Sally O’Malley impression “for all of you SNL fans”: “I’m fifty!”
She continued by referencing being talked off the ledge when she’s “done done DONE!!! really done!” with acting. Then she said, “I feel like the prom queen” of the Golden Globes, which: fine because she was taking home the Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Then she did a jokey lead up to coming out, teasing a “sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public...a declaration that I’m a little nervous about.” The punchline was, “I am single.” Ha? “No, I’m kidding, but I’m not really kidding, but I’m kinda kidding, I mean...” Then she asked for a “wolf whistle or something.” Then the sound cut out, maddeningly, at a crucial moment, and returned on “...big coming out speech tonight.” But then she explained that she already did her coming out, “about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age.”
“But now, apparently, I’m told, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime time reality show!” Oh, OK, so she’s not coming out then? Jodie Foster hates coming out. “You guys might be surprised but I am not Honey Boo Boo child,” she added. What she meant is she’s not Uncle Poodle or Glitzy the teacup pig, the two gay characters of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
“My reality show would be so boring,” she lied. She immediately betrayed these words by hypothesizing the kind of insane scenarios she would need to enact to create riveting television (“I’d have to make out with Marion Cotillard. I’d have to spank Daniel Craig’s bottom just to stay on the air.”) Thing is, watching Foster riff is good TV in itself.
“But seriously,” she continued. “If you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler. If you had to fight for life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy,” she said openly, to the world.
“One day in the future people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was,” she said. Way back when people could just shut up and stay closeted?
Tables of fame-free faces and her agent were mentioned. And of course, Mel Gibson. “You know you saved me too,” she said. And then, apparently breaking her value held above all else, she referenced “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, conciliary, most beloved bff of 20 years, Cydney Bernard.”
Well, OK, there’s no wrong way, I guess. That’s hers to express and express again and feel resentful and reluctant about having to express. Watching this speech was like watching someone come to terms with the changing times in real time. The confusion was contagious.
She dedicated “the song” of her life to her kids, Charlie and Kit. She said, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” to her mother with the idea that if she said it “three times it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul, fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life. You’re a great mom. Please take that with you when you’re finally OK to go.” At first, this sounded like she was implying that her mother wasn’t OK with her sexuality, but her mother has dementia, and that seems like a reasonable cause for such emphasis, too — especially because she began this section with, “Mom, I know you’re inside those blue eyes somewhere and that there’s so many things that you won’t understand tonight.” So yeah, dementia is what that was about.
And then, to wrap, Foster said she felt like this (this award? this coming out? this particular second that is going to pass?) was “the end of an era and the beginning of something else.” “And now what? Well, I may never be up on this stage again. On any stage for that matter.” She is not exactly known for her stage work (that is until now), but OK? She’s quitting showbiz then? “Change, ya gotta love it!” she said as the camera cut to Kate Hudson weeping in bewilderment. “I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved. The greatest job in the world. It’s just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick,” said Foster, whose talking stick was affixed to the podium she was behind.
“And maybe it won’t be as sparkling, maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens,” she said, Anne Hathaway’s eyes teary and already assuming Foster’s rejected sparkling. “Maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle, but it will be my writing on the wall: Jodie Foster was here. I still am. And I wanna be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely. Thank you, all of you for the company. Here’s to the next 50 years.”
Backstage, after the speech, Foster said, “Oh no, I could never stop acting. You’d have to drive me behind a team of horses.” That would also be really good TV. If they were dogs, she could have a conversation with them.
And so, in short, tonight we relearned that Jodie Foster was in a relationship with Cydney Bernard, she’s not declaring her sexuality beyond that, she is going to keep acting and that she was here.