Actress Maria Bello has fought off mummies with Brendan Fraser (“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”), married Johnny Depp (“Secret Window”) and dallied with Viggo Mortensen (“A History of Violence”).
But lately, she is more known for an essay that she wrote that was a bit more personal—when she came out as bisexual two years ago.
A Catholic all her life, she was clutching to her rosary beads and doubling up in pain after picking up a parasite on a trip to Haiti a few years ago. She was concerned she was dying.
“I looked around my bed and there were many partners from my life,” she said in an interview with The New York Times from the hospital. She was surrounded by her mother and brother, her teen son Jackson, her former partner who is Jackson’s father and Clare Munn, her best friend whom she fell in love with, surprising them both.
She wrote about her new love and her new life in a New York Times piece called “Coming Out as a Modern Family.” It became a phenomenon. It went viral, and it became the basis of a new book: Whatever…Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves.
Her son, at 12, pressured her to explain if she was involved with anyone, and she explained that she was in love with Clare now. He answered her with something she will always remember:
“Mom, love is love, whatever you are.”
That became her book title.
“I didn’t realize at the time how many modern families and different kinds of partnerships there were out there, and that people didn’t have a way to describe themselves or the structure of their lives,” said Bello, who took 18 months to finish the 220-page book. It covers parenting, sexuality, forgiveness, and her Catholicism.
Her book mixes chronicles from diaries she wrote as a pre-teen growing up in Philadelphia to her thoughts of her illness. She isn’t out to answer questions for others, but in fact says, “I realized at the end I have no answers for anyone, I just continue to have questions.”
“I definitely feel like the people in general, the men and women of the generation below me who are in their twenties and thirties are so much more psychologically and emotionally in tune than people of my generation,” she said after talking about dating a man much younger than her at the time. “They grew up with Oprah and Dr. Phil and therapy and men and women are friends [in that generation]and they go out together and there’s not this imbalance of power like there used to be. So I find my boyfriend to be a lot more conscious than a lot of older men that I know. I think that’s it. I think if you have a connection with someone you have a connection. I don’t know.”
And so, she raises questions about identity as well as her strong Catholic beliefs, and she explained that to the BLGT community. She said in the interview with GLAAD’s Claire Pires:
“I didn’t think I could reclaim the label of Catholic even though I went to 16 years of Catholic school (and) my dearest friend at university was a Catholic priest. But then I remembered that it was really a faith based in love, really, at the end. I have seen, not only through this Pope, but through so many other supporters, more of an acceptance of every person and every orientation, whatever you do, whoever you are, so I’ve reclaimed that. I’ve reclaimed that.”