One of the biggest questions she was asking herself at the time was how to tell her son, then 12 years old, that she had fallen in love with a woman. Jack’s response—simple and wise beyond his years—was “Whatever, Mom . . . love is love.” Realizing that Jack didn’t see traditional labels of partnership, Maria began to contemplate the labels she herself had worn during her life. Publisher, Whatever…Love Is Love by Maria Bello
Maybe you’ve already read actress and activist Maria Bello‘s 2013 highly popular essay in the New York Times called “Coming Out As a Modern Family,” in which the nature of her relationship as same-sex and the above response from her 12-year-old son was made public.
Below Bello, in a brief clip, talks about the acceptance of her son and other young folks today:
Maybe you also already know that Bello’s partner, Clare Munn, initiated a “Whatever Campaign” that, according to Annie L. Scholl, Huffington Post, “has been embraced by thousands who don’t fit so easily into labels like ‘gay,’ ‘lesbian,’ or ‘bisexual,’ and for those who exist outside the heterosexual, nuclear-family structure.”
Some of us are comfortable with labels that seem to define and validate us, others are not. If you’re one who chooses certain labels, Bello hopes they’re a help to you, not a hindrance. As for her sexual orientation, she’s definitely a “whatever”—it works for her.
It’s not that she’s afraid to claim a more specific identity, though. She tells R. Kurt Osenlund, Out: “…I’m a whatever, but I’m proud to say that I’m gay, bi, lesbian, whatever you want. I’ll take it all.”
Bello’s new Whatever…Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves, out this week, recognizes the frequent struggle people have around self-labeling of all kinds. The essays within, reflecting the contents of a large collection of personal journals she’s kept for many years, ask different questions related to her own identity, including, for example, “Am I Resilient”?, “Am I a Good Mom”?, “Am I Enough”?
More from the publisher:
Written as a series of provocative questions and thoughtful answers, this book is filled with deeply personal, often funny, and even passionate stories, stories in which Maria bares her soul and shares what she’s learned—not only about romantic love, but also about her relationship with her parents, her feelings about spirituality, her sexual identity, the highs and lows of her career, her humanitarian work, and her worth as a mother. Using her experiences as a gateway to a larger conversation, Maria encourages you to think about the life you lead, who you love, what you do, what you believe in, and what you call yourself…and helps you to realize that the only labels that matter are the ones we place on and accept for ourselves, even if they don’t fit the mold of ‘typical.’
By the way, other topics covered by Bello, says Scholl, include having an alcoholic father, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her 20’s, and having a history of battling suicidal feelings.
Selected Book Reviews
Annie L. Scholl, Huffington Post: “Love is Love is not a memoir about an actress. It is a frank, raw, and honest book about the way every woman questions the roles she plays in love, work, and life, filled with wisdom, questions, and insights relevant to us all.”
Pat Mitchell, editorial director and host of TEDWomen, advisor to the Paley Center for Media, and chair of the Sundance Institute: ”With clarity and exquisite honesty Maria Bello manages to be both vulnerable and self-deprecating. Whatever…Love Is Love is a must-read for anyone tired of old habits and labels, and is looking to grow in a way that works for themselves and the people in their lives. I feel sure this conversation has only just begun.”
Yasmeen Hassan, global executive director of Equality Now: ”An important, timely, and brave exploration of self that questions the human tendency to label and stereotype, and shows how existing labels may fail to capture the current human experience.”