Tuesday, April 8, 2008


It took Jodie Foster long enough, but in December 2007, she finally did it. Jodie Foster came out at the Women in Entertainment Breakfast receiving the Sherry Lansing Award when she thanked her partner Cydney Bernard, who “sticks with me through the rotten and the bliss.”

“The rotten and the bliss” seems to me one of the great configurations for the long-term lesbian relationship. I can list a million of the things that are rotten about relationships. Monday mornings, which inevitably involve going to work after a blissful weekend together, stress about money and jobs, spats about how to clean houses, care for animals, organize household activities. Disagreements about money or new sofas. Indecision about holidays or how to spend a spare four hours. The list could go on.

Thank goodness, it is also just as easy to list the bliss. Coming home to a beloved after hard days at work. Seeing someone else smile at your achievements. Flowers for no reason at all. Celebratory dinners. Secrets. Inside jokes. Belly laughter about these inside jokes and secrets. Fond memories. Vacation snapshots. All of these things are the basis of a long term relationship. All of these things are the bliss—the things that provide fun and laughter in the lives of two people together.

Jodie Foster understands the rotten in long-term relationships and the bliss. Some of us have been waiting for many years for her to acknowledge that she is a lesbian and in a long-term relationship with another woman. I admit, I thought that the final disclosure would be more dramatic and important than it actually was.

Jodie Foster’s acknowledgement of her lesbianism and her intimate partnership was simply a brief statement—a brief acknowledgement in the acceptance of an award of her lifetime together with another woman. Still, it did seem to many of us that the heavens opened with cherubim singing. Perhaps I exaggerate for effect. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take it. However, Jodie Foster comes out, I’ll celebrate. I want more celebrities to come out, and I’ve been watching celebrities come out long enough that I’ll take any celebration wherever I can get it.

I do think, however, that the moment of waiting for celebrities to come out has basically passed. George Clooney is playing with us with his coy conversations about “Gay, gay, gay.” (The third one, according to Clooney, is going just too far). In another tabloid, Clooney suggests that if Brad Pitt was a woman and he was a woman and each were lesbians. . . well, you know what they mean. Clooney plays with our expectations and our hopes for him as a gay man. The era of denials has ended. The era of coyness has begin.

The dramatic coming out adventures of Melissa Etheridge, “YES, I AM,” or Ellen Degeneres on the cover of Newsweek, “YUP, I’M GAY,” are over. What we have instead are the oblique confirmations from celebrities of what we knew all along.

As celebrities no longer feel the need to “come out” we can only hope that they also eschew the need to stay “in the closet.” Openness and honesty was always what our revolution was about. As we now begin to experience it more and more, we’ll have to readjust our expectations, for our celebrities heroes, and, perhaps more importantly, for ourselves.

Julie R. Enszer is a writer and activist living in University Park, MD. You can read more of her work at www.JulieREnszer.com.

This is installment #20 in CIVILesbianIZATION dated 8 April 2008.

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