‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert’s Mom Asked if She Was a Lesbian After Jodie Foster Dinner

by Jennifer Shea

Actress Melissa Gilbert didn’t have many female friends in her youth. Despite starring in “Little House on the Prairie” as Laura Ingalls, she didn’t socialize much. And the girlfriends she did make would often swoon over her then-boyfriend, the actor Rob Lowe. 

Melissa Gilbert Made a Friend Off the Set of “Little House on the Prairie”

It was away from the set of “Little House on the Prairie” that Gilbert was able to make friends. The actress was on vacation in Europe with her mother when she ran into “Freaky Friday” star Jodie Foster on the set of a movie being filmed there. According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Gilbert approached Foster and introduced herself.

The two actresses got to talking, and Foster invited Gilbert over to her apartment to hang out. They went to a local café for dinner, then back to Foster’s place. They kept talking late into the night, so Gilbert decided to just stay over at Foster’s.

When Gilbert returned to her hotel the next morning, her mother looked worried. Finally, she blurted out what was on her mind: Was Gilbert a lesbian?

As Gilbert wrote in her memoir “Prairie Tale,” she assured her mother she wasn’t. But her mother’s response was, “Well, you know what they say about Jodie.”

At that point, there were whispers that Foster was a lesbian, but they were only rumors. Foster did indeed publicly clarify that she is a lesbian at the 2013 Golden Globes.

Gilbert told her mother that Foster’s sexual orientation had no bearing on the fact that she is a nice person.

“I spent the night at her house. Big deal,” Gilbert wrote in her memoir. “That doesn’t make me a lesbian. I’m a very heterosexual woman. In fact, maybe too heterosexual.”

Jodie Foster Came Out Publicly at 2013 Golden Globes

At the 2013 Golden Globes, where she was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, Foster gave a lengthy, energetic speech publicly acknowledging her sexual orientation and thanking her ex-partner, Cydney Bernard, with whom she has raised two sons.

“I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age,” Foster said, while conceding that she had been privately out to close associates but not publicly out. 

That did not cut it for some LGBT activists, who, according to ABC News, called her speech “a little passive-aggressive” and “weirdly defensive” because it stood by her decision to guard her personal life all those years.

“By our stand, you are not out until you are publicly out,” said Diane Anderson-Minshall, executive editor of LGBTQ publication The Advocate. “Even though she danced around being a lesbian, at least it’s finally done.”