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  • « GNW 5: Gay teens on TV and streets | Main | Different hemisphere, same leadership vacuum »

    December 16, 2007

    The outing double standard

    Posted by: Chris

    Jodiecydney The news that Jodie Foster publicly thanked her "beautiful Cydney" at a Los Angeles women's banquet has apparently pushed the magic button that allows the mainstream media to finally acknowledge that the two-time Oscar winner is gay.

    In a typical report, CNN's Kiki King discussed the development by saying, almost in passing, "of course she's been with Cydney Bernard for over 14 years now."

    "Of course"? If Foster's long-term relationship was so obvious to the mainstream press, why did it take 14 years to report it, and only after Foster herself acknowledged it?

    Here is the double standard on outing. When it comes to heterosexual celebrities, the entertainment media can't get enough, reporting every salacious detail they can get their hands on.  And when closeted celebrities are caught in scandals, they'll jump in with gusto. But gay celebrities in happy, well-adjusted relationships -- whether Ellen or Rosie or Jodie (why are they all lesbians?) -- the public is told nothing about until the celebrity says OK.  Even if the gay star shows up escorted in public by her partner at event after event.

    The same type of double standard holds sway with closeted politicians as well, with those accused of shenanigans investigated without any regard to privacy. But it's hands off on those with long-term relationships until they come out. Mark Foley is an example of both standards.

    The alternative I have advocated for years is "equality." Apply the same rules to gay and straight celebrities, and the same rules to gay and straight politicians. Ask about their personal lives, as they would otherwise, and report their answers, whether they lie, equivocate or refuse to answer. Then report the public facts that fit or contradict what they've said.

    Digging deeper into their private lives is a judgment call, just as it is with straight politicians, that inevitably involves balancing the newsworthiness of the information versus how much personal privacy must be invaded to get it. It's unthinkable that a heterosexual Hollywood celebrity of Jodie Foster would have a 14-year-relationship that went completely unreported. It's way past time that it be unthinkable for gay celebrities, too.

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    Comments

    1. Double T on Dec 16, 2007 10:51:29 PM:

      CC,
      It does happen from time to time. Janet Jackson was married for almost 10 years. Marriage never reported in the press until the divorce.

      It may be more of a double standard between men and women than gay and straight.

      The press appears to go easier on women.

    1. ted on Dec 17, 2007 2:30:50 AM:

      No one knew that Janet Jackson was married. Everyone knows/knew that Jodie Foster has been with the same woman for 14 years.

    1. Double T on Dec 17, 2007 3:25:32 AM:

      I didn't know.

      And I bet CC heard rumors, but nothing more.

      CC????

    1. jimbo on Dec 17, 2007 3:45:49 PM:

      Perhaps if there's nothing interesting to report about Jodie & Cydney that the press doesn't go there? Take it as a hallmark of respect when boring lesbian couples don't make it into sensationalist news columns simply for being lesbian.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Dec 17, 2007 4:30:02 PM:

      I agree with Jimbo. It is a sign of progress when boring couples are not reported upon whether straight OR gay.

      Hollywood reporting is all about, to quote noted sage Alan Jackson, "who's cheatin' who". It is a GOOD thing that Jodi and Cydney don't qualify as newsworthy.

    1. jimbo on Dec 18, 2007 4:05:23 PM:

      Even the most conservatively-biased reporters know that the headline "Lesbian couple buys 2008 Subaru with U-Haul hitch option" is not news.

    1. Citizen Crain on Dec 18, 2007 4:45:33 PM:

      Interesting theory, Jimbo, but the way the MSM reacted to Jodie Foster's first public (semi) acknowledgment proves that the interest was there but stifled because it was left to Foster to decide when/whether to make it reportable.

      There's no question that infidelity and messiness get more coverage than happily partnered folks, but profiles of every actor of any caliber -- much less someone of Foster's longevity and success -- always include basic information about relationships, etc.

    1. Inaudible Nonsense on Dec 18, 2007 5:47:44 PM:

      Access? Reporting on hollywood requires lots of off of the record gossip by insiders -- mostly publicists, agents, etc. You want to keep getting the good tips that sell magazines? Then you play by the rules. Jody Foster's publicity team must very well have said the topic is off limits. And as long as they were giving good gossip elsewhere and access to their bankable star. Then everyone plays along.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 26, 2011 3:05:34 AM:

      And as long as they were giving good gossip elsewhere and access to their bankable star. Then everyone plays along.

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