The ever-evolving ways to come out have evolved some more as former ER and Prime Suspect star Maria Bello has revealed that she is in a relationship with a woman in a thoughtful, personal essay in the New York Times. The news is very welcome and no doubt has countless in the community saying silently (and not-so-silently), “I knew it!”
The 46-year-old actress and mother has moved from movies to TV throughout her career and managed to keep her private life relatively that. Her coming out is in a piece written for the Times’ weekly “Modern Love” column collection which gives a first-person accounts of love, loss, longing and more every Sunday. In hers she discusses her “modern family” and how she told her 12-year-old son about her relationship.
“So are you romantic with anyone right now?” he asked.
I took a deep breath, knowing that my answer, and his response, would have an impact on our lives for a very long time.
He was right; I was with someone romantically and I hadn’t told him. I had become involved with a woman who was my best friend, and, as it happens, a person who is like a godmother to my son.
Bello describes her partner as Clare, a woman she calls her best friend who she met while she was “sitting in a bar wearing a fedora and speaking in her Zimbabwean accent.” The two were friends first, then they went through a “long, painful, wonderful process of trying to figure out what our relationship was supposed to be.” So that finally solves the mystery of what Bello’s fedora in Prime Suspect was all about.
The essay is lovely and open, and questions the narrow definitions of “partner” and “family” along the way. Clare is apparently the second same-sex relationship Bello has been in; she previously had mainly relationships with men and continues to be close to her son’s father and considers him family.
Bello recounts telling her Irish-Polish “traditional” Philadelphia family about Clare and her, and they were fine, even encouraging. But she admits some concern about what coming out about her relationship could mean for her career, and even more concern about how it could affect her son.
Then how did the big reveal go?
So back to Jackson’s question, with me sitting on the edge of his bed: Was I romantic with anyone right now?
I exhaled and finally said it: “Clare.”
He looked at me for what seemed like an eternity and then broke into a huge, warm smile. “Mom, love is love, whatever you are,” he said with wisdom beyond his years.
Maria also tweeted out a picture of her thoroughly modern family over the weekend.
— maria bello (@maria_bello) November 30, 2013
So congratulations, Maria. We’re so excited to be able to call you part of the family. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to watch Coyote Ugly again in a whole new light.