"At this point Jodie Foster should just come out. She's not an ingénue anymore. You know, it really saddens me because Jodie Foster could do so much good."
— Comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer in a recent interview with the Dallas Voice
Love her or hate her, mention her name in a roomful of dykes and spines tingle, backs curl. Jodie has the power to turn a happy lesbian dinner party into a raging, Crossfire-like debate—not about her talent, which most would probably agree isn’t up for debate, but about her personal life.
Half of the women in the room will defend Jodie's decision to keep her personal life as private as she can. Perhaps each of the women on that side of the argument enjoys a somewhat “private” life (read: closeted life) of her own; perhaps each simply respects Jodie's choice on a professional level. Lord knows that out Hollywood actresses don’t get the work that closeted actresses do. Regardless of the reasoning, each rationale is sure to provoke a very interesting and intense sub-debate.
The other half will, like Westenhoefer, argue that Jodie should come out of the closet because of what she could do for the lesbian and gay community. Jodie's clout, the respect she commands, her charming personality and warm, soft-spoken manner, they believe, will help make the world a more welcoming place for lesbians. These folks are likely out themselves and want some very famous company. Or, perhaps their desire is more selfish. Maybe they think they’re owed something in return for supporting Jodie over the years. Maybe, just maybe, they simply want to be right. Whatever the reasons, this argument is, of course, based on the belief that Jodie is in.
But is she?
While Jodie's public behavior reeks of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” is there anyone besides the June and Ward Cleavers of Middle America and cable-less people in third world countries who doesn’t suspect that Jodie's gay? Who doesn’t believe that she and Cydney Bernard are more than friends?
Let’s be real. While we’ve never heard the words “I am a lesbian” escape from Jodie's mouth, there’s plenty of ink leading to the camp that says she’s not all that straight. You need not be a super sleuth to trail Jodie down the Pink Path. All you have to do is read and pay attention to not only what she says and does, but also what she doesn’t say and do.
So why all the heated fuss? Jodie Foster is out already—sort of. Is she not out enough? Why do we pressure this woman to come to our rescue when she obviously doesn’t want to?
Okay, I’ll bite. What would Jodie do for us? What would happen if Jodie Foster came out publicly?
Let’s pretend that Jodie came out this morning. Let’s suppose that she did so in true Jodie -fashion—she didn’t call a press conference, she simply and finally, in a one-on-one interview while promoting her new movie, answered “Yes” to a question reporters have been asking her for years: Are you gay?
Let’s also assume that Jodie does not have Multiple Personality Disorder and that her demeanor or character will not change as a result of her admission. In other words, it’s unlikely that Jodie Foster will say she’s a lesbian today and march on Washington or slug Rick Santorum tomorrow. That’s just not who she appears to be. It seems to me that Jodie would follow her declaration with something like, “I have nothing else to say about that. Next question?”
If that were to happen, how would we feel? After getting what we’ve always said we wanted, would we be satisfied?
Why? Because we don’t want Jodie to simply come out publicly, we want her to be our leader. And that’s fine; we could use some leadership. But if Jodie hasn’t stepped up for that job yet, I doubt she ever will. Why would she? Given the track record of those who have tried to fill that position in the past, I’m surprised she hasn’t made a quiet, cozy home for herself and her family in Antarctica.