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This woman who obviously has been afraid to come out in the public sphere has been out in her private life for decades.

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She was, of course, ready for her close-up.

Deliciously groomed and styled by someone who seemingly doesn't hate women, Jodie Foster was fully prepared for the biggest soliloquy of her life. And yet, because she is an actor, the Oscar-winner began her speech accepting the Cecil B DeMille award at the Golden Globes yesterday by claiming spontaneity: "I have a sudden urge to say something that I've never been able to air in public.

This was not a sudden urge, a lightning reflex to pick lint off a loved one's coat. This, a sort-of coming out speech — she had paid tribute to "my beautiful Cydney" Bernard, her then partner, at a Hollywood breakfast in December — was 50 years in the making. Forty-seven of which she has been in front of cameras.

And most of which she has been in what Out magazine called, on their notorious May coverthe "glass closet": on view but unacknowledged. Hiding, if you will, in plaid sight. Not waving, nor drowning.

The speech was glorious, gracious. It was funny.

Following her "I'm just gonna put it out there loud and proud" build-up she snatched away the expected "I'm gay! Yes I am.

I am single. The revered veteran with a blistering talent was starting to reveal her real self.

This is as rare in Hollywood as egg yolks. It was also rather moving.

Wilson cruz, first to come out on tv

Foster recalled coming out privately "in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her. And, probably, most viewers continued to be moved when she justified her decades of zip-lipped, keep-'em- guessing, identity-dodging by appealing for us to sympathise with her plight. I sympathised, vaguely. But I could not ignore the message forming in my head from a careers-worth of interviewees — from Jamaican lesbians "correctively" raped, from Cameroonian gay men tortured by police, from the mother of Matthew Shepardmurdered by homophobes and left tied up in a Wyoming field - the message bellowed out: you had choices.

You could have left acting at a young age, already rich and cosseted, to live an authentic life. You could have had that privacy if it were that important to you. You could have come out, easing the way for others like you.

Instead, you chose your career, and you lied by omission about your orientation. At the beginning of Foster's career, inpsychiatrists were still treating gay people with electro-convulsive therapy. Almost all lesbians and gay men were closeted, shamed into lives of a million lies, or driven to a desperate end on a train track. Only when a clutch of fearless drag queens fought back at police in at New York's Stonewall Inn did our lives being to change. And everything since then — every gay TV character, every gay politician, every persecutory law revoked, every last triumph or freedom we've ever enjoyed, has come from a single act of defiance, repeated tirelessly across the world: the act of coming out.

Jodie foster's 'coming out' speech was glorious – but something bothered me

Without visibility we would have nothing. Without millions of ordinary people, kids in British state schools, activists in Uganda, married Christians in the Bible belt, saying, "Actually, I'm gay," Jodie Foster would not be able to stand up, resplendent, creaking open the closet door free of consequences. She surfed the wave of others' courage and gave back only when she felt like it. It is every gay public figure's social responsibility to be out, to make life better for those without publicists and pilates teachers.

Those who cry, "It's none of your business! Who cares who I sleep with?!

Do straight people consider their orientation private? You cannot skip the tough part of a human rights struggle.

I long for being gay to be nobody's business, to not matter, but we're a long way off. You either do your bit, and in the case of an A-list actor, that means blazing a trail for other performers, or you remain concealed, bleating about privacy.

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Perhaps because they get a lot of practice. We're all child actors.

Some never stop. The only difference is Jodie Foster got paid for it. You told us Sexuality.

This article is more than 8 years old. Patrick Strudwick. Foster says she values privacy, yet it is every gay public figure's duty to be out, to make life better for ordinary gay people. Tue 15 Jan Reuse this content.