Actress Maria Bello revealed that she is in a lesbian relationship in a New York Times essay on Sunday, making an appeal to be embraced for her own “modern family.”
Bello, 46, wrote in a “Modern Love” column in the Sunday Styles section that she struggled with revealing to her 12-year-old son Jackson her relationship with a woman called Clare who happened to be her closest friend.
But she also argued for a broader definition of sexuality and love than what currently passes for social norms.
“I have never defined myself by whom I slept with,” Bello wrote. “but I know others have and would.”
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In the essay, the self-described actress and activist, a favorite of indie movie directors and most recently seen in the thriller “Prisoners,” worries aloud about her choice: “First, how would it affect my son?” she asked. “Second, how would it affect my career?”
Hollywood does not have much of a track record when it comes to casting women who have come out as gay or bisexual in the past couple of decades, as our social mores around homosexuality have radically changed. But there undoubtedly remains a perceived bias against male movie stars being gay. So Bello isn’t wrong to worry. She also isn’t wrong to argue for a new definition of sexuality.
Does everyone have to fit in a category, she asks?
Bello says her other main relationships have been with men – not always sexual ones.
Like, for example, with the former Sony chief John Calley. “For five years I considered my partner to be a friend then in his 70s, John Calley, with whom I talked daily,” she wrote. “He was the one who picked me up each time I had a breakdown about another failed romance. Because we were platonic, did that make him any less of a partner?”
She went on:
“And I have never understood the distinction of “primary” partner. Does that imply we have secondary and tertiary partners, too? Can my primary partner be my sister or child or best friend, or does it have to be someone I am having sex with? I have two friends who are sisters who have lived together for 15 years and raised a daughter. Are they not partners because they don’t have sex? And many married couples I know haven’t had sex for years. Are they any less partners?”
As it happened, both Bello’s immediate family and her 12-year-old son accepted her relationship with Clare. And Bello pleads to avoid labels.
“I would like to consider myself a ‘whatever,’ as Jackson said,” she wrote. “Whomever I love, however I love them, whether they sleep in my bed or not, or whether I do homework with them or share a child with them, ‘love is love.’ And I love our modern family. Maybe, in the end, a modern family is just a more honest family.”
I don’t know where her career comes out on this, but I’m going to guess it’s just fine. Nonetheless, bravo to Bello for her candor, and to offering us all food for thought, and tolerance for all, after our Thanksgiving binge.