With the Supreme Court ruling on nationwide gay marriage, increased transgender visibility, and a permeating conversation about non-binary sexualities, 2015 brought LGBT* issues closer to the forefront than ever before. However, even in 2016, at least one letter in that acronym is still regarded with outdated misconceptions and dangerous stereotypes.
Bisexuals are the largest group of LGBT* individuals in the United States, but they are less likely to be open up about their sexuality than their gay and lesbian counterparts. Because of the lingering stigma and shame that do clear and lasting damage to thousands of people, famous faces who talk openly and proudly about their bisexual identities are not only brave—they're fixing public perception for the better.
These are celebrities who have spoken out about what it means to be bisexual in society today and hopefully changed some minds in the process.
1. Amandla Stenberg eloquently stressed the importance of representation
In her interview with Teen Vogue, actress and activist Amandla Stenberg opened up about the messages young black girls receive from the media and beyond, and she encouraged listeners to stay true to themselves in the face of pressures to conform.
As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman, I've been through it. It hurts, and it's awkward and uncomfortable. But then I realized because of Solange, Ava DuVernay, Willow [Smith], and all the black girls watching this right now that there's absolutely nothing to change.
This was the first time she casually revealed that she identifies as bisexual, but even before that she's become an icon for teens everywhere to discover their own self-worth even if it means a little bit of rebellion or defying the status quo.
2. Evan Rachel Wood laid down the basics of bisexual recognition
To start, let's turn to True Blood and Into the Forest actress Evan Rachel Wood, who does a commendable job schooling people on what it means to be bisexual. While so many believe that bi folks are just wasting time before they "pick a side," Evan points out that her identity is at direct odds with this stereotype and shouldn't be erased just to fit into a simpler box.
As she points out, bisexuality is not a phase, and it is not an in-between; it is a legitimate, valid, and equal sexual identity. Evan lays this all out brilliantly in even more tweets, and I encourage anyone still doubting the existence of bisexuals to check it out in full.
3. Mike White wrote same-sex relationships with the same complexity as straight ones
You probably recognize Mike White as Ned Schneebly from School of Rock, but he's also an extremely successful creator who wrote the movie too! While promoting his directorial debut Year of the Dog, he was asked if he thought happy gay relationships are possible and answered:
Hell, yeah, I think they’re possible! I’ve been in them, although they don’t last for very long. [Laughs.] I think people can be happy in relationships, certainly. I think there’s a lot of pleasure to relationships. However — not to be too self-helpy — I think your ultimate relationship is with yourself, and if you can’t be happy in that relationship, then you’ll never be happy.
As a self-identified bisexual, White brings his important perspective to the big screen and treats both straight and gay relationships with the same nuance.
4. Amber Heard reminded us that, even in 2015, coming out still requires a fight
After Amber Heard got married to Johnny Depp earlier this year, many people have forgotten that the stunning actress is not only attracted to men. She openly dated photographer Tasya van Ree for four years and opened up to The Times about how difficult it was to come out in Hollywood:
I don't want to have to deny my sexuality in order to be me. But I don't want to have to be defined by it. I'm fundamentally opposed to trying to edit myself to be palatable or popular. I don't give a f---. I fight, but I shouldn't have to.
It's no secret that rising LGBT* stars are encouraged to stay in the closet to remain more successful (while straight stars are able to flaunt their weddings and children on magazine covers), but Amber refused to reject who she is.
5. Billie Joe Armstrong brought questioning your sexuality to one of the most popular albums of the '90s
Talking to Rolling Stone for the 20th anniversary of Dookie, Billie Joe Armstrong expanded on how the album and songs like 'Coming Clean' are all about the gray areas of attraction.
It was a song about questioning myself. There are these other feelings you may have about the same sex, the opposite sex, especially being in Berkeley and San Francisco then. People are acting out what they're feeling: gay, bisexual, transgender, whatever. And that opens up something in society that becomes more acceptable. Now we have gay marriage becoming recognized.
6. Anna Paquin schooled Larry King on the difference between monogamy and sexuality
She says it better than I ever could. Check out this brilliance.
7. Bryan Singer reminded us that sexuality can be fluid
Men are much less likely than women to come out as bisexual, and that's partially because any time a guy has any attraction to a man, it's just easier to say he's gay. Bryan Singer proved this—and the need for less restrictive language—when he spoke to Out Magazine:
I’m quite bisexual. In the last five years, I’ve had two girlfriends—one for two years, one for eight months… In the end, it’s probably going to be a guy. I emotionally lean towards male relationships, so I’m happy to say I’m gay, too, if it’s a one-syllable, easy answer.
He now has a son with close friend Michelle Clunie.
8. Drew Barrymore admitted her attraction to women with casual flair
In 2003, back when coming out of the closet was considered a career death sentence, Drew Barrymore directly addressed the swirling rumors that she enjoyed the company of women.
Do I like women sexually? Yeah, I do. Totally. I have always considered myself bisexual. I love a woman's body. I think a woman and a woman together are beautiful, just as a man and a woman together are beautiful. Being with a woman is like exploring your own body, but through someone else.
That admission brought a firestorm of attention to the actress' sexuality, and she's maintained her identity ever since.
9. Michelle Rodriguez explained the importance of bi visibility in popular media
Michelle Rodriguez has never been one to care about what other people think about her, but she realized that not talking about her bisexuality could do more harm than good when it comes to her queer or questioning fans. She told attendants at an L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's event:
I'm not big on people's opinions, you know? Unless it's somebody I really respect. I don't care what people out there have to say. But I do realize the importance of having the bravery to live as who you are and I feel like a lot of people don't have that bravery. Maybe by me opening my big fat mouth like I usually do and stepping up and owning who I am, maybe it might inspire somebody else to do the same.
Knowing that people will hate you simply for who you are and still being honest with the public is an act of bravery, and not many know that better than Michelle.
10. Cara Delevingne wouldn't let anyone erase her identity
After Vogue ran a story profiling Cara Delevingne that suggested her bisexuality might be a phase, the up-and-coming actress and former model quickly took to The New York Times to set the record straight.
My sexuality is not a phase. I am who I am.
It's a simple proclamation, but one that bears repeating. Cara has been dating singer Annie Clark (better known as St. Vincent) for the better part of this year, and the two have attended public parties and premieres together. The idea that women date women only until the right man comes along is offensive and downright incorrect, and it's great to see a growing star reject that assumption.
11. Alan Cumming pointed out that the LGBT* community also must do more when it comes to bisexual awareness
Though he often gets misrepresented as gay, Alan Cumming identifies as bisexual, and he's repeatedly called out both the mainstream and the gay community to do more to accommodate those who don't fit into the gay or lesbian umbrella:
I see a worrying trend among LGBT* people, that if you identify yourself in just one way, you close yourself off to other experiences. My sexuality has never been black and white; it’s always been gray. I’m with a man, but I haven’t closed myself off to the fact that I’m still sexually attracted to women.
Even in inclusive spaces, bisexual individuals often feel isolated between two worlds. Cumming would prefer more people to cool it with the judgment and let people be who they are.
12. Megan Fox proved that every person has a different relationship with their own identity
Whether or not you agree with this stance, famously candid Megan Fox told Esquire that just because she's bisexual doesn't mean she'd want to date one.
I have no question in my mind about being bisexual. But I'm also a hypocrite: I would never date a girl who was bisexual, because that means they also sleep with men, and men are so dirty that I'd never want to sleep with a girl who had slept with a man.
It's a complicated (and somewhat illogical) statement, but it proves that you can't put all bisexuals into one box. As with any other orientation, they're not being selfish, indecisive, slutty, or any other word that gets thrown around. They're attracted to who they're attracted to, and that's the end of it.