Monday, January 14, 2013

Silence is Golden (Globe?)

There were a couple of amazing moments last night at the Golden Globes. Amy Poehler and George Clooney whispered sweet somethings to each other. Bill Clinton was well-spoken - and brief - but topped by Amy and Tina calling him "Hillary Clinton's husband." Kristen Wiig and Will Farrell were very funny.

But the most talked about was certainly Jodie Foster's rambling speech accepting the Cecille B DeMille award. She acted as if she was going to make a big announcement and then asked for privacy. She said we wouldn't be seeing as much of her, implying that she's retiring from acting, but then said it would take a team of horses to stop her from acting.

She seemed to be torn between her deep desire for privacy and the need to declare herself and be proud of who she is.  She certainly could have restricted her comments to the business at hand: the change in the kinds of roles women are offered, the difficulties and joys of growing up in front of the camera. You know, acting and directing -- the reason she received the award. But she didn't.

Did she come out? Didn't most people already know? Why do we care?

On one hand, she hasn't pretended to be straight by dating people of the opposite sex as was required of people like Rock Hudson. She has had two sons without a male partner while she was living with a woman. She obviously felt like the people who should know did know because she claimed to have come out "about a thousand years ago." 

What do people want from Jodie? She is an actress and director - not a politician. As far as I know, she has never advocated publicly for anything: not abused animals, AIDS research or orphaned children. That doesn't seem to be who she is. She could be a role model and inspiration for young people exploring their sexuality but must she?

We're as conflicted as Jodie. We want everyone to be treated equally. But we don't expect Clare Danes to announce that her child is the result from having sex with a man. We don't want gay people to be forced to reveal more of their lives than others but we also want them to stand up and tell the world that they are loud and proud.

Every time a group starts to achieve mainstream acceptance, their "differentness" becomes even more important. Ask African American actors what it was like to be in the spotlight thirty years ago. Or the first African American President. Or the first Hispanic American judge. It's nice when we stop noticing.

But "gaydar" aside, sexuality isn't usually as obvious as skin color or an accent so maybe we need them to tell us who they are so we can be proud of ourselves for accepting them.

The world is changing and we are all trying to find our way.

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