Maria Bello has come out as gay — in a big way. The 46-year-old actress revealed she’s been in a long-term relationship with her best female friend in a column that was published in the New York Times on Friday, Nov. 29. In the heartfelt passage titled “Coming Out as a Modern Family,” the star shared the first time she opened up about her love life to her 12-year-old son Jackson.
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At the time, her young son had been getting suspicious, and wondered if she wasn’t telling him something — and he was right. “This was the moment I had been anticipating and dreading for months,” the actress wrote. “I took a deep breath, knowing that my answer, and his response, would have an impact on our lives for a very long time.”
“I was with someone romantically and I hadn’t told him,” she admitted. “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.”
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One year earlier, Bello — known for her work in Coyote Ugly and Grown Ups — decided to give a relationship with her best friend a try. The realization happened when she was reading through her old journals in her California garden.
“I read about the handful of men and the one woman I had been in romantic relationships with, passages rife with pain and angst. It seemed when I was physically attracted to someone, I would put them in the box of being my ‘soul mate’ and then be crushed when things didn’t turn out as I had hoped,” she wrote.
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“As I continued to look through photos, I came across a black-and-white one of my best friend and me taken on New Year’s Eve. We looked so happy, I couldn’t help but smile,” she added. “It didn’t occur to me, until that soul-searching moment in my garden, that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically.”
And they did. Shortly after, Bello tried to figure out the relationship with the woman, Clare, while they met up in New York. Their friendship eventually turned romantic. (Bello previously dated a woman named Bryn.)
Though the Prisoners actress was at first wary about revealing the news to her “traditional” Philadelphia family, the star admitted that it was an easy conversation to have. “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,’” she wrote. Her mom agreed.
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Bello was previously in a longtime relationship with TV executive Dan McDermott. They welcomed Jackson together in 2001. “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,” Bello shared.
She added: “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.”