Well, this is interesting. But not in the way you’re expecting, maybe. Maria Bello has “come out” as bisexual in an essay/column in the New York Times. The piece, written by Maria, was published over the weekend to a collective “What’s that again?” Maria discusses her “coming out” as a bisexual woman through the story of how she came to tell her 12-year-old son about what was happening with his mama. While I think it’s absolutely fine to tell your 12-year-old son (and the world) that you self-identify as bisexual and you’ve had relationships with women, the shocking part to me was that Maria is actually in two major relationships right now – one with a man and one with a woman. Maria calls this her “modern family.” But that’s really confusing for kids, right? I couldn’t care less about the sexuality, it’s the “mommy loves two people in different ways” part that I think is… perhaps inappropriate for children. Anyway, you can read Maria’s piece here and here’s the basic gist:
“So are you romantic with anyone right now?” [my son] asked.
I took a deep breath, knowing that my answer, and his response, would have an impact on our lives for a very long time.
He was right; I was with someone romantically and I hadn’t told him. I had become involved with a woman who was my best friend, and, as it happens, a person who is like a godmother to my son. How and when should I tell him? When I explained the situation to a therapist, she smiled and said, “Your son may say a lot of things about you when he’s older, but he will never say his mother was boring.”
Her advice was to wait until he asked. And now here he was, asking.
… First, how would it affect my son? He trusted Clare. He loved her. He had never met most of the men I had been in love with and had no idea I had been with a woman as well. Second, how would it affect my career? I have never defined myself by whom I slept with, but I know others have and would.
It’s hard for me even to define the term “partner.” 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?
My feelings for Clare aren’t the same as the butterflies-in-the-stomach, angst-ridden love I have felt before; they are much deeper than that. As we grew closer, my desire for her grew stronger until, after a few months, I decided to share the truth of our relationship with my large, Italian-Polish, “traditional” Philadelphia family.
My father’s response came between puffs of his cigar while we sat on the roof of a casino in Atlantic City. “She’s a good girl, good for you,” he said. My mother and family echoed his sentiments. Maybe they weren’t so traditional after all.
My feelings about attachment and partnership have always been that they are fluid and evolving. Jack’s father, Dan, will always be my partner because we share Jack. Dan is the best father and the most wonderful man I’ve known. Just because our relationship is nonsexual doesn’t make him any less of a partner. We share the same core values, including putting our son first. My more recent ex, Bryn, remains my partner because we share our activism. And Clare will always be my partner because she is also my best friend.
So back to Jackson’s question, with me sitting on the edge of his bed: Was I romantic with anyone right now? I exhaled and finally said it: “Clare.”
He looked at me for what seemed like an eternity and then broke into a huge, warm smile. “Mom, love is love, whatever you are,” he said with wisdom beyond his years. (Yes, he obviously attends one of those progressive schools in Los Angeles!)
I loved him so much for saying that. “But Jack, I’m a little scared,” I said. “When I was younger, people judged you if you were in a romantic relationship with a person of the same sex, and some still do. So I’m not sure how to deal with this. But we’ll figure it out together.”
And we have figured it out together: Jack, Clare, Dan and I. It’s a rare weekend when we aren’t piled in the same car, driving to one of Jack’s soccer tournaments. Dan makes fun of Clare for getting lost and she makes sure he always has the umbrellas, sunscreen, water nuts and whatever else we might need in a nuclear disaster.
Maria goes on about how it works for her and I guess we should applaud her for figuring out the whole co-parenting thing and going with the flow and all of that. I think it’s sweet that her son is so accepting right off the bat (bigotry and intolerance is learned behavior, not inherent in children) and hey, what do I know? Maybe it will all work out. But it sounds like it’s working… right now. But that the situation will probably become more fluid when Dan moves on with someone else or when Maria has some hot guy or girl co-star and it will just be a mess. But maybe that’s fine too, Jack sounds like a good kid and maybe he’ll understand.
Also, in case you thought that “costars” reference was a throw-away, Maria talks about falling deeply in and out of love with two unnamed costars in her essay. I really, really want to know if one of the costars was Viggo Mortensen. RIGHT?! Because their sex scenes in A History of Violence were pretty hot and I could easily see how any woman would fall in love with Viggo within the span of a few hours. Yes, I’m projecting.
Photos courtesy of WENN.