Amandla Stenberg's Sexuality Has Changed (& There's Nothing Weird About That)

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When Amandla Stenberg came out as bisexual on Teen Vogue's Snapchat in 2016, they immediately became a queer icon. But now, Stenberg (who also came out as non-binary) wants the world to know that they're not actually bisexual. Stenberg told Wonderland magazine that they're proudly gay and only attracted to women/femininity.
"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," Stenberg said in the interview, according to E! News.
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While "gay" can be an umbrella term that any not-straight person (including someone who's bisexual) uses to describe themselves, it's clear that Stenberg's sexuality has shifted. Or, at least, that they have a new understanding of it. And there's nothing strange about that. As many people on Twitter have pointed out, it can take time for someone to find the label that fits their experience. And it seems that this is the case for Stenberg. They express in the interview that even when they were identifying as bisexual and pansexual they never felt attraction toward men unless the men were feminine. But, struggling to find the right word isn't the only reason someone might change their sexual orientation label.
As much as we like to spout the "born this way" idea of being LGBTQ+, sexuality is much more fluid than that implies. Some LGBTQ+ people might feel that they were born lesbian, gay, bisexual, or otherwise queer and that will never change. But some also experience their sexuality shifting over time. Maybe they once identified as a lesbian but then fell in love with a man. Maybe they were initially attracted to men, women, and other genders but then realized that it's really only men who light their sexual fire. Or maybe they were once only attracted to men but then realize that actually, non-binary people are really hot.
"People are born with a sexual orientation and also with a degree of sexual flexibility, and they appear to work together," developmental psychologist Lisa Diamond said to New Scientist. "So there are gay people who are very fixedly gay and there are gay people who are more fluid, meaning they can experience attractions that run outside of their orientation." Feeling that your sexuality has changed doesn't take away from the experience you had when you first identified as a lesbian, or bisexual, or straight, or gay. Nor does it say anything about LGBTQ+ identities not being "real." It just means that your feelings have shifted.
And if someone is a true ally to the LGBTQ+ community, they'll allow for fluidity. "If we truly believe that it's acceptable to have sexual and romantic relationships with the same sex, then it shouldn't matter whether or not sexual orientation is changeable," wrote Michael C. LaSala PhD, LCSW, for Psychology Today. "We should be as accepting of a person who has a relationship with a man and then a woman as we would of someone who usually eats vanilla ice cream and then decides to start eating pistachio."
The ice cream analogy might be a little too simple (it's still problematic to imply that someone chooses to have a relationship with a man and then with a woman), but Dr. LaSala's sentiment stands. If we're okay with LGBTQ+ people exploring their sexuality and coming out once, shouldn't we allow them the space to keep exploring? Just because someone comes out as bisexual or gay or a lesbian doesn't mean they're married to that label for the rest of their lives.
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