This past Sunday, while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster made a speech that everyone is talking about. I heard about the speech before I saw it. I heard mixed reactions; they made me nervous. The first time I watched my stomach was clenched – I was prepared to be embarrassed for her, for us. Her first nervous jokes did not put me at ease – uh-oh. Was she too anxious? Too tipsy? Too…something? But as she spoke, I was drawn in and I am in awe of Jodie Foster and her bravery and heart. I’ve watched it several times over and each time I’ve laughed, cried, felt uncomfortable, and related to her on a profound level. I saw in her a person, a mother, a partner, a queer woman and a daughter – and in each of those roles I saw a bit of myself.
Here are the parts of her speech that most struck a chord with me:
“I hope you’re not disappointed there won’t 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 and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met.”
What LGBT person can’t relate to this? We all become aware over time that coming out isn’t a moment – but a process. A process that often lasts a lifetime. I’ve been surprised when there has been an implication that it was my responsibility to let people know about my queerness when I’ve been living my life openly for years. I imagine that is magnified when millions of eyes are on you. She never uses the word lesbian, but there is no doubt in my mind (yes, there are people out there than are still questioning) that this was (another) public acknowledgment that she is not straight. Is she a lesbian? Is she bisexual? It doesn’t matter, she’s our sister.
“There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging 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, consigliere, most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. Thank you, Cyd. I am so proud of our modern family.”
How beautiful. Most of the world finds it shocking to hear someone speak to/about an ex in such a loving way – but I think more of us in the LGBT community can relate. Maybe it’s because we are often in a small tight-knit community, but the stereotype about lesbians remaining close with their exes rings with some truth to me – and I enjoyed seeing it reflected on a national stage.
“Our amazing sons, Charlie and Kit, who are my reason to breathe and to evolve, my blood and soul. And boys, in case you didn’t know it, this song, all of this, this song is for you.”
BAM! I think every mother can connect with those words – and to hear them from the lips of a person who only moments earlier acknowledged being a queer parent? DOUBLE BAM!
“This brings me to the greatest influence of my life, my amazing mother, Evelyn. Mom, I know you’re inside those blue eyes somewhere and that there are so many things that you won’t understand tonight. But this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you. And I hope that if I say this 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.”
Aaaaaaand: Sob. Up until this point in her speech I had tears in my eyes, but goodness gracious did those words let the floodgates loose. The love we have for our parents is deep and complex – and many queer people have extra layers to the complexity of those relationships. This was touching, pure and made me want to hug and thank my own mother.
“Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely.”
Words that describe the universal human experience, but once again, carry more meaning to those of us who are queer and are hearing them from a beautiful, smart and successful queer woman.
And finally? The camera often cut to her kids. The way they were looking at her might be what struck me the most. They looked happy, secure and proud. I hope my kids look at me that way. I think she made them proud. She made me proud.