Stephen, now 31, came out as trans in his teens. “My son is incredibly brilliant,” Bening said. “I mean, I have four amazing children, and I love all my kids. Stephen has always been a highly literary person. I just read his latest poem that was just published; wow, it is so extraordinary. I’m so proud of him, and yes, he was in The Paris Review!”
“I am incredibly proud of him, and he has carved his own way,” she continued. “He’s someone I do admire, and I’ve learned a lot from when he first came out. … I didn’t always know what to do, and I didn’t always make the right choices because of my own ignorance, but we got through it.”
“This is the most I’ve ever talked about it because I’m a private person and my son is private,” she added. “He has a right to talk about his own life.”
Bening has often spoken out strongly for LGBTQ+ equality. She has stepped up her support in the past few years. “The real transition has happened as the right wing in the country has become more and more mobilized on misinforming people about the LGBTQ community,” she told the Reporter. “They have been vilifying our community and creating problems that do not exist and creating and sowing hate and fear as a way of rallying their base. That’s obviously not new, and it’s happened in the campaigns of the past, especially against gay people. But now it’s transphobia, and it’s just rampant.”
“What I would wish is for every person to have someone who is trans in their family because once somebody you love is trans, then you get it,” she noted. Stephen is “an inspiration to me,” she said, and one of her favorite doctors is a trans woman.
Another person who inspires her is gay actor Ian McKellen. “What Sir Ian McKellen has done, coming out and all the work he’s done for gay rights, has been phenomenal,” she said.
Bening is an activist on a variety of issues, including abortion rights and workers’ rights. She recently became chair of the board for the Entertainment Community Fund, formerly known as the Actors Fund, which assists performing artists in financial need. The demand for its aid has risen greatly in the past few months, with actors’ and writers’ unions on strike. Since May, “it “has distributed more than $4 million to 2,000 film and TV workers film via its work stoppage fund,” the Reporter notes.
“What we do is so meaningful and special and done with such integrity and humility,” Bening said.
One thing she couldn’t talk about due to the strikes was her next big film project, Nyad,in which she plays lesbian swimming champion Diana Nyad. Union members are barred from promoting their films and TV shows while on strike.