Maria Bello Comes Out in New York Times Essay

Maria Bello

The "Prisoners" actress reveals she's in a relationship with new media executive Clare Munn and questions the definition of a "partner," noting she had a close, platonic relationship with John Calley before his death.

Maria Bello came out over the weekend in an essay she wrote for The New York Times, revealing she's in a relationship with her best friend, a new media executive named Clare Munn.

Bello, whose credits include the film Prisoners and NBC's short-lived Prime Suspect, explained her decision to come out had a lot to do with her 12-year-old son, Jackson, with producer Dan McDermott. The decision was prompted by his query over whether there was "something I wasn't telling him."

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"I was with someone romantically, and I hadn’t told him," she wrote. "I had become involved with a woman who was my best friend, and, as it happens, a person who is like a godmother to my son."

Bello explained that the woman she is now dating -- Munn, who serves as chairman of the new media company The Communication Group -- was first a good friend. One day, before they began dating, Bello had a moment of reflection in which she was reading through her old journals and looking at photos. She noted that people whom she once thought were her "soul mates" turned out to be anything but. She then came across a photo of herself and Munn, with whom she admits she had "an immediate connection" that wasn't romantic or sexual.

"She was one of the most beautiful, charming, brilliant and funny people I had ever met, but it didn’t occur to me, until that soul-searching moment in my garden, that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically," Bello wrote. "What had I been waiting for all of these years? She is the person I like being with the most, the one with whom I am most myself."

While she says Jackson and her parents were fine with her dating a woman, she admits that she did worry about what effect her coming-out would have on her career.

"I have never defined myself by whom I slept with, but I know others have and would," she wrote. (Bello previously was engaged to musician Bryn Mooser.)

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The actress also wrote that she has a hard time defining what the word "partner" means, explaining that she believes even friends can be partners. For example, she considered John Calley, the former studio chief who died in 2011 at age 81, to be a "partner" despite their platonic relationship.

"For five years, I considered my partner to be a friend then in his 70s, John Calley, with whom I talked daily," she wrote. "He was the one who picked me up each time I had a breakdown about another failed romance. Because we were platonic, did that make him any less of a partner?"

Bello added that she still considers McDermott a "partner" because of their son and notes that she, McDermott, Jackson and Munn often hang out, have dinner and take part in family activities together.

"So I would like to consider myself a 'whatever,' as Jackson said," she writes. "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.' And I love our modern family. Maybe, in the end, a modern family is just a more honest family."