“Where do I start? I’m grateful for how being gay has afforded me this ability to experience and understand love and sex, and therefore life, in an expansive and infinite way,” Stenberg, 19, begins. “The continual process of unlearning heteronormativity and internalized homophobia can be difficult, but one of the biggest blessings lies in the magic that comes from having to understand love outside the confines of learned heterosexual roles.
“My sexuality is not a byproduct of my past experiences with men, who I have loved, but rather a part of myself I was born with and love deeply.”
Stenberg admits she has had “a few” emotional moments — dubbed the “gay sob” — when she discovered she liked women.
“I was so overcome with this profound sense of relief when I realized that I’m gay — not bi, not pan, but gay — with a romantic love for women,” she states. “All of the things that felt so internally contrary to my truest self were rectified as I unraveled a long web of denial and self-deprivation.”
She continues, “Like oh, maybe there’s a reason why I kissed my best friends and felt ashamed growing up. Or watched lesbian porn and masturbated (and more) with my friends at sleepovers. Or stifled a scream of horror the first time I saw a penis and had to convince myself with much internal strife that I was enjoying what was going down. Or could only find attraction towards gay men and femme boys who damn near had the sensibility of a woman. Or developed earth shattering, all consuming crushes on… GIRLS!”
Stenberg says she was “flooded with a sense of calm and peace” when she realized she was gay, “because everything that I struggled with or felt discomfort around finally made sense to me, and once those floodgates opened and years of pent-up pain and shame were released, I found the freedom to live my best life waiting for me just underneath.”
The lack of representation of gay women of color in film and on television made it difficult for the Everything, Everything star to better understand her sexuality growing up. “Had I had more representations of black gay women growing up, I probably would’ve come to conclusions around my sexuality much earlier because I would’ve had more of a conception of what was possible and OK,” she explains. “Having more representations of black gay women now and seeing myself reflected in them has been a huge aid in seeing myself as whole, complete, and normal.”
Stenberg also credits Mila Kunis as her “first lesbian crush.”
The actress has taken to Instagram to promote the article, exclaiming she’s “so happy” to say she’s gay “in official print.”
Check out the full article here.
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