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Why I'm So Angry About Jodie Foster's Coming-Out Speech

So Foster finally admitted that she's gay at the Golden Globes, but she should have been brave enough to come out a long time ago.
 
 
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So Jodie Foster finally admitted that she's gay (though she never actually said the word) at the Golden Globes, and of course her worst nightmare -- a bazillion pieces like this one, dissecting her private life and proselytizing about her bizarre speech -- is coming true. Well, too f***ing bad, Jodie! There wouldn't be any pieces written about it now if you'd just been brave enough to come out a long time ago, like the rest of us.

I mean, is it 1996? Jodie's defensive speech, in which she seemed to blame Honey Boo Boo and reality TV for supposedly creating a climate that forced her out of the closet, harkened back to a time when it was a big deal to proclaim your sexual orientation. Hello, it's 2013! People are getting "gay married" and homos can be out in the military and stuff! But she wouldn't know that, because she's been so deeply entrenched in the closet that she's like Encino Man. (That reference is as dated as Jodie's thinking about this topic.)

Why am I so angry? Because I'm roughly the same age as Jodie, and yet I had the courage to come out exactly 20 years ago. This was before Glee and Modern Family and Will & Grace -- and even Ellen DeGeneres' historical and culture-changing pronouncement. I, and so very many others, took a leap of faith and dealt with the consequences. Sure, I wasn't worried about losing $20 million a picture, but it's all relative: I feared that family and friends would abandon me, that I'd get passed over for jobs and promotions, that I'd be the victim of violence, and all the other clichés from the after-school specials.

And by the way, some of that stuff happened. And by the way, I'm still dealing with the consequences, as I "re-came out" to family and friends as transgender last year. I could have sat back and just been a socially accepted gay, but that's not what I am, so I'm back to being considered a freak to most of the population again. But I'm dealing with it. Every single day.

But back to Jodie. She blamed publicly remaining in the closet all these years -- even with a long-term partner and two children -- on that whiny excuse that so many celebrities use: "privacy." Sorry, but there are a lot of "private" stars who don't do a lot of press and don't talk about their personal lives, like Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnny Depp, but we know basic facts about them, such as whom they are married to. The "privacy" excuse is just that: an excuse.

Nobody was asking Jodie to be president of the gays. Ellen is a great example of someone who came out, had no interest in being the poster child and is just living her life honestly and openly. Though she occasionally fights publicly for LGBT causes, being a lesbian doesn't define her. But here's the amazing thing that happened to Ellen. At first her big announcement seemed to derail her career. She disappeared for a while and almost gave up on show business because she was "mired in depression." After some dark days, which a lot of newly out people experience, Ellen ultimately was rewarded for being her true self. Today, because of her talk show, she's arguably one of the most beloved stars on the planet, adored by millions, gay and straight alike (except for a handful of moms who now refuse to shop at JCPenney, but c'mon, they're dumb).

It's interesting that Jodie announced that she's gay (and single -- I will not expect an invitation for a date) and simultaneously seemed to announce that she's leaving show business. Doesn't that make her coming out moot? She's simply going back into hiding in another closet called "retirement." Think of all the amazing projects she could do now that she's free and unguarded! And that doesn't mean she has to star in Personal Best 2. (Forgive me: I'm using references Jodie and my generation of lezzies would understand.) It just means that the world is her oyster, finally, and that's when artists often do their best work.

Obviously, there's more to this story behind the scenes than I will ever know about, like why in the world she's so close with an inarguable homophobe like Mel Gibson, or the real reason that it took her so long to come to this decision, because it certainly wasn't only about "privacy." Any shrink would agree with that, right? Also, what is the real reason that she's retiring? Was it a preemptive strike, just in case she's ostracized or exiled from Hollywood?

A lot of people will criticize this piece and write angry, hateful comments saying that it was up to her when and where to come out, and they're absolutely right, but that still doesn't mean she wasn't a coward, and it doesn't change the fact that she could have helped millions of people by coming out years ago.

But screw me and my opinions anyway. Jodie will most likely be hailed for finally coming out, and now she will help people whether she intended to or not. The sad thing is that she'll quickly realize how loved and supported she's always been and how she wasted too many years hiding.

Here's my prediction: In a few years, after she's worked through some self-loathing and fear, she'll be back on the big screen in a big way -- and back on the stage at the Hilton, collecting an armful of Golden Globes.

Deb Baer is an entertainment writer and editor.