While being honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, the actress, 50, delivered a powerful speech where she addressed everything from her sexuality to her relationship with her mother.
"While I'm here being all confessional, I guess I just have just a sudden urge to say something that I've never really been able to air in public," a smiling Foster said. "[It's] a declaration that I'm a little nervous about – but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now. I'm just going to put it out there – loud and proud."
After a short hesitation and plea for support she said: "I am single."
The camera panned to her rarely seen sons smiling as she continued. "This is not going to be a big coming out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the stone age – in those very quaint days when a fragile girl would open up to trusted friends and family and coworkers and then gradually proudly to everyone who knew her ... but now apparently I'm told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a primetime reality show."
As she continued, confidently, Foster also thanked "one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. Thank you, Cyd. I am so proud of our modern family, our amazing sons, Charlie and Kit who are my reason to breathe and to evolve. ... Boys, in case you didn't know it, this song, like all of this, this song is for you."
Foster – who made her acting debut at the age 3 as the Coppertone girl – has been in the public eye for 47 years, which she says, has driven her desire for privacy.
"If you had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, than maybe you too would value privacy above all else," she said, as many in the crowd nodded in support.
But it was when she spoke candidly about her apparently ailing mom that there was not a dry eye in the house.
"I love you, I love you, I love you and I hope if I say this three times, it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul, fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life," she said on stage. "You're a great mom. Please take that with you when you're finally okay to go."
Despite concluding with what seemed like a retirement announcement – she remarked, "This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else – scary and exciting" – Foster told reporters backstage: "I could never stop acting. You'd have to drag me behind a team of horses."