Award-winning actress Jodie Foster has finally come out as a lesbian after years of speculation regarding her sexuality.

The Silence Of The Lambs star has always guarded her privacy fiercely, always refusing to reveal the parentage of her sons Charles, nine, and Kit, six.

But the 44-year-old yesterday broke her silence at the Women in Entertainment awards ceremony, dedicating her prize to "my beautiful Cydney".

Foster and film producer partner Cydney Bernard met on the set of the film Sommersby in 1993 and have raised the two children together at their Malibu Home.

Accepting the Sherry Lansing leadership award, Foster said Bernard "sticks with me through all the rotten and the bliss".

The double Oscar-winner also revealed the insecurities that have coincided with her successful career.

"I feel fragile, unsure, struggling to figure it all out, trying to get there even though I'm not sure where 'there' is," she said.

"I've been working in this business for 42 years and there's no way you can do that and not be as nutty as a fruitcake."

Foster landed her first work in a sun cream commercial aged only three and had appeared in 50 films by the time she left school, before winning the best actress prize at the Academy Awards for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs.

Commenting on Foster's surprising announcement, Kathy Belge of the website Lesbian Life said: "I never thought I'd see this day. Perhaps it was because her children are getting older and she didn't want them to think there was anything wrong with being gay.

"Perhaps she was simply sick and tired of life in the closet.

"Whatever her reasons, we are pleased that Jodie found the courage to be true to herself."

12/12/2007 12:47:26