Scroll To Top

Did She or
Didn't She?

Did She or
Didn't She?


Did Jodie Foster come out of the closet at an industry breakfast on December 4? The media seems to think so.

Actress and producer Jodie Foster was just making a thank-you speech, right? Depends on who's doing the reporting.

On December 4 the two-time Academy Award winner accepted the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at the annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast in Beverly Hills. Foster attending this kind of industry event is hardly news outside Hollywood, but her acceptance speech garnered global headlines when she thanked "my beautiful Cydney," apparently referring to Cydney Bernard, the woman long assumed to be her partner.

Foster recognized her agent, publicists, lawyer, and mother before thanking Bernard, "who sticks with me through the rotten and the bliss," she said.

The film and television website lists Bernard as a production coordinator, manager, or supervisor on a half-dozen films and television movies--including the 1993 feature Sommersby, which starred Foster. Both of Foster's children, Charles and Kit, have the middle name Bernard.

Foster's December 4 comments set off a rash of media coverage, with publications from South Africa to New Zealand reporting the words, but with widely varying interpretations of what they meant. The U.K.-based website Fametastic saw the statement as a sign that Foster "may be set to publicly confirm her relationship." Other publications went further, with The Philadelphia Daily News declaring on December 15 that Foster "has officially announced she's gay." The British tabloid Daily Mail reported on December 12 that Foster "has finally come out as a lesbian." The Daily Mail also ran a photo of Foster and Bernard taken at the German premiere of her 2005 feature film Flightplan.

The coverage was not just in print. Cabler CNN added a video clip to its website on December 13 titled "Jodie Foster thanks gay partner" where celebrity columnist Kiki King said in an interview with one of the network's anchors "of course she's been with Cydney Bernard for over 14 years now, and she has two sons, presumably with Cydney playing a sort of parental role in that relationship, as well."

Robert Thompson, a professor at the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said the reaction shows an evolution in the way media interprets comments by individuals that merely indicate sexuality.

"Once upon a time a comment like that would have gotten absolutely no remark, because so much of that stuff wasn't being reported," Thompson said. "It was so submerged. Now it's gone in a completely different direction. I suppose what it still continues to indicate is, we are still obsessed by people's sexuality, and [by] naming and reading all the clues.

Despite increasing acceptance of LGBT people in general society and a growing number of entertainment personalities who are living out lives, speculation over an A-lister like Foster is invariably news, Thompson said.

"There is still almost this parlor game trying to identify the sexuality of celebrities and people we know that doesn't seem to have stopped," he explained.

It's usually predicated by a long season of speculation," Thompson said, "Rosie and Ellen being prime examples."

That long season may have begun months ago. During an interview for the August 2007 edition of More magazine, a reporter broached the subject of the ring Foster wears on her left-hand ring finger. When asked if she thought "wearing a ring raises questions," Foster said, "I don't have any problems with anybody reporting on my life. It's just that I'm not going to bring my family into that."

On the other hand, Foster extended a hand to the LGBT family just two days before her Women in Film acceptance speech. On December 2, the star appeared onstage at the annual Cracked Xmas benefit for the Trevor Project, which funds a round-the-clock suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth. Foster was there to give an award to the Foundation's founders, James Lecesne, Peggy Rajski, and the late Randy Stone, an out gay Hollywood executive with whom Foster shared a long, close friendship.

Although she had contributed financially to the Trevor Project and had helped to finance Trevor, the Academy Award-winning short about a gay teen who outgrows the idea of suicide, Foster had stayed behind the scenes until this year. The sustained standing ovation she received onstage appeared momentarily to startle the actress, who said she'd count the applause as a tribute to Stone.

But did that warm response prompt Foster's December 4 acknowledgment of her partner? Only Foster knows. The Trevor appearance and the Sherry Lansing Award speech could be subtle gestures, or simply random moments linked by coincidence. Regardless, the reporting continues. On December 14 gossip web site ran video footage of Foster and Bernard leaving West Hollywood restaurant Il Sole.

Even with the media onslaught, Foster has so far not spoken further about her relationship or sexuality. But she did make some poignant comments on the red carpet before the December 4 breakfast.

Asked by the trade publication The Hollywood Reporter what advice she would give to women aspiring to a position in entertainment, Foster said, "The one lesson is to try and be who you are, and not try and be somebody else, because you're never going to be very good at being somebody else. And there is a lot of temptation of that. If it isn't true, then it isn't moving."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Christopher Lisotta