Pictured: Olympia Dukakis, Maria Bello, and Joan Jett on Oct. 15 | Photo: Getty Images
Actress Maria Bello made a splash late last year when she came out as LGBT in her New York Times article “Coming Out as a Modern Family.” Since then, she's been labeled as gay, bisexual, and polyamorous by the media, but as she wrote in the article (and a followup piece), she would rather consider herself a “whatever.”
“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,’ ” she wrote.
At the premiere of her new TV film, an adaptation of Stephen King’s Big Driver, this week in New York City, she elaborated on the issues addressed in her article. While looking stunning on the red carpet— along with co-stars Joan Jett and Olympia Dukakis—she talked about her family’s support and unique nature, explaining: “You know, getting ill last summer changed my life in such a way. While I was recovering in bed, I saw so many things. Who was at my bedside and that we had this very unconventional modern family. After I wrote this article for the New York Times, I realized that there was a larger conversation to be had that nobody was having, which was that the only labels you have are the ones you give yourself and your family.”
When asked to elaborate on how she felt about labeling and why she calls herself a “whatever,” she explained that her son actually came up with the term and that she fell in love with it. “When I told my son I was involved with a woman romantically, who was also my best friend, he said, ‘Mom, whether you’re lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, or whatever, shout it out the world!’ That’s what he actually said, and I’m so proud of him for knowing that and being that guy. So ‘whatever’ came from asking: How do you define yourself by labels?”
Stressing that she's not entirely against labels, Bello urged that they should be used to empower rather than limit. “I do believe in some labels, to take on labels that change our policies, that make us feel stronger. What I don’t believe in is labels that someone else gives us because they feel like that’s the societal label.” She then added how inspired fans wrote to her after her Times essay was published, with an estimated 273,000 people reaching out to her in solidarity, writing messages like, “I’m a 'whatever,' I have a whatever family too, I never knew what to call it.” Bello plans to explore the subject in more detail in her upcoming book Whatever: Love is Love, set to come out next year.
Big Driver, in which Bello plays a mystery writer plotting revenge against her rapist, airs on Lifetime, Saturday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. ET. Watch the trailer below: