Jodie Foster is hardly the first celebrity to acknowledge that he or she is gay, but she may be the biggest so far and she did it on a big stage — the Golden Globes awards show, which was televised worldwide Sunday night and watched by some 20 million viewers. It may not have been breaking news for a roomful of Hollywood power brokers and stars — or for anyone who follows the entertainment industry closely — but it was no doubt a significant moment for the many moviegoers who generally believe, in the absence of any information to the contrary, that actors' sexual orientations parallel those of the characters they play on screen.
In fact, Foster had already publicly, if even more obliquely, alluded to the woman in her life when she accepted an award at a smaller 2007 event and praised, among other friends, "my beautiful Cydney." And, at this point in her career, with two best actress Oscars and multiple turns as a director and producer, Foster, who is 50, risks little professionally with such a revelation.
But as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, the mere fact that it took her more than six minutes to offer a sometimes coy but ultimately poignant explanation of why she chose to be so private on this matter for so long speaks volumes about how difficult coming out still is for many public figures.