In a sometimes incoherent, jittery acceptance speech at the Golden Globes last night, Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Jodie Foster may have finally said she’s a lesbian—except she never really said it.
Her sexual orientation is an open secret in Hollywood, but the two-time Oscar winner has refused to officially come out and stake a stand, arguing that privacy was crucial.
After thanking film industry executives who shepherded her acting, directing and producing career for 47 years, Foster seemed to pause and gather her courage for a big announcement. “So when I’m here being all confessional, I guess I just have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration … that I’m a little nervous about, but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But you know, I’m just gonna put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m gonna need your support on this. I am… single. Yes I am, I am single,” she said, as the crowd laughed with a frisson of relief.
“No, I’m kidding. But I mean, I’m not really kidding, but I’m kind of kidding,” she continued. “Thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a wolf whistle or something? 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. In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family, co-workers, and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. 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. You guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child. No, I’m sorry, that’s just not me, it never was, and it never will be.”
She seemed to allude to the common knowledge that she is a lesbian, but never explicitly said it, preferring to chastise the media for its attention on the details of her personal life. “If you had been a public figure from the time you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else,” she said.
Viewers took to social media to hash out Foster’s declaration. While some Globes watchers were mystified by the rambling, 10-minute speech, others saw a watershed moment. The monologue questioned what coming out means today—is it enough to simply not deny you’re gay or lesbian? Must you explicitly acknowledge your sexual orientation? Or does it require standing up for gay and lesbian dignity and aligning yourself with a movement? Foster was, and always has been, reluctant to make a statement about her sexuality that could be interpreted in a political sense.
Aside from that anticlimax, the most startling aspect of the speech was the camera’s multiple cutaways to an emotional Mel Gibson, reviled A-lister and Foster’s BFF. While we may have some clearer insight to Foster’s personal story, we’ll never understand the relationship between those two.