Two-time Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster has made a small but significant move to acknowledge her sexuality.

Accepting an award at a Hollywood breakfast last week, the Silence of the Lambs star paid tribute to “my beautiful Cydney who sticks with me through all the rotten and the bliss.”

The reference to her long-term partner is a first for Ms Foster.

She has been in a 14-year relationship with Cydney Bernard and they have a son, but Ms Foster has always refused to answer questions about her personal life.

In the last year some younger Hollywood actors, such as Grey’s Anatomy star TR Knight and Doogie Howser MD star Neil Patrick Harris, have found themselves effectively outed by gossip websites.

In May an American gay publication took the controversial step of naming a series of Hollywood stars it claims are gay, and urging them to come out of the closet.

Out featured two models holding masks of actress Jodie Foster and American TV news anchor Anderson Cooper in front of their faces, with the headline “The Glass Closet: Why Stars Won’t Come Out And Play.”