Actress Maria Bello wrote a stirring op-ed for the New York Times, “Coming Out as a Modern Family” that chronicled how she told her son, Jack that she was in love with her female best friend, Clare. Her son responded, “Whatever, Mom, love is love.” Those words have evolved into a book, “Whatever…Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves.”
FOX411: Why did you decide to write such a personal essay? It was brave.
Maria Bello: I didn’t find it brave at all to be honest. After my son said, 'Whatever, love is love, Mom. Shout it out to the world.' A few months later we were at his father’s birthday that Clare, and Jack and I threw. My parents flew in for it, his family and all of our friends. I looked around this room and I thought to myself there is so much love here. We are so lucky, and they are all my partners in a different way. Someone said to me, 'How long were you with Dan?' I said, 'Well, we’re still together but in a different way.'
FOX411: Was there any backlash for being so candid?
Bello: Nothing. What was extraordinary was how it led to a bigger conversation. How people all over the world we’re thinking and talking about the same ideas about all of the labels we give ourselves, and getting rid of the ones that disempower (sic) us and claiming ones and embracing ones and creating ones that do empower us.
FOX411: In your book you ask a series of thought-provoking questions from “Was I partner? Was I damaged? How do you label yourself now if at all?
Bello: My son coined the term 'whatever.' Within an hour of publication I had 273,000 Facebook hits and messages of people saying, 'I’m a whatever, too and I never knew what to call it. I have a whatever family.' I had a woman come up to me just last week – that’s been inspiring that so many people are coming up to me and saying, Thank you for talking about this. My ex-husband lives with me, we’re not together romantically. He has a girlfriend. My best friend helps to raise our kids. Our dogs are like our family. This is our family.
FOX411: Did the essay have any effect – positive or negative – on your relationship?
Bello: Clare is a bit shy and private so for her it was a bit stunning. At the same time she knew it came from a place of pride and questioning. My book is really about questioning all of the labels I put upon myself and other people have given me. You know am I Catholic? You know can I be excited today about the Supreme Court that we are on the verge of marriage equality if I’m Catholic. And I realized yes I can be because love is love.
FOX411: What do you make of Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer?
Bello: I found him very inspiring and very authentic, and the way his family is showing up as well. They’re just such lovely people. Facebook last year added 51 new gender options between male and female besides male and female so I went through them all and I was at least 15 of them.
FOX411: Would you be willing to chronicle your modern family in a docu-series?
Bello: I have to tell you my favorite channel is HGTV. It’s my go-to. The only thing I would ever do is re-model homes or decorate homes or fix up old homes. Not my private life.