Saffron Burrows goes public with marriage to female partner

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Actress Saffron Burrows has been out since 1999, when she spoke about having relationships with both men and women, saying she “preferred” the latter. Since then she’s starred in television series, including Boston Legal and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as films like Frida and The Guitar. In the last two years, we’ve seen her as Agent Victoria Hand on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and now she’ll be starring in the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle.

Today, The Guardian ran an in-depth profile of Saffron (now 42) where she talks candidly about her career and her family. The story notes how little she grants interviews (“I think,” she says, “I maybe felt increasingly private as I got older because I became aware of the gravity of statements. And how they linger and last.”), and has Saffron talking about her marriage to Ellen DeGeneres Show writer Alison Balian (who also wrote the film Chasing Papi). (They made it legal last August.)

They’ve been a couple for six and a half years and, two years ago, Burrows gave birth to their son. A thin gold band, studded with tiny diamonds sparkles on her left hand. “I always liked the idea of being with someone for a while and then getting married, but I didn’t know if I’d do it.” With a kind of affectionate scoffing at herself, she adds: “I’m quite a romantic, I probably thought I would do it.”

I ask what made them finally decide. “Well,” she says, with an apologetic smile, “I don’t think I want to answer that, only because it’s so private, but I will say that we did elope. We hadn’t told anyone and then I called my mum and she said, ‘You haven’t eloped! You only elope when you’re young and in trouble!’”

Saffron says she doesn’t necessarily eschew labeling: “For people in general, I think they should name themselves in whatever way they wish. The flourishing of the gay movement in America is clearly very necessary and the identity that people could proudly lay claim to is crucial. Lives are lost every day because of bigotry in this country. So I think that should not prevail.”

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She also aligns herself with Maria Bello’s way of discussing sexuality, saying she didn’t want to necessarily make a big “reveal” of her relationship, but wondered how and when it should happen.

“…people shouldn’t have to make statements and their lives should be private if they want to be,” Saffron said. “But I think if someone’s feeling restricted by not making a statement, then they should be free to do so. I chose to speak to you because I don’t want to lie by omission and I want to be very straightforward about my life. I don’t want to hesitate and feel hindered by something I haven’t said. Also, I’m really proud of my family and who they are, these two individuals beside me. That’s certainly my proudest achievement. And for my boy, I want to be honest with him because he deserves it – but also proud. And I want us to live a very honest life with each other. I think for a while I was just avoiding conversations, in order to not be labelled in some way that I felt was limiting and not actually true to who I am. I really salute these young women who come out, but if I said I was gay that wouldn’t be true.”

The entire piece is worth a read. Mozart in the Jungle premieres December 23 on Amazon.

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