Evan Rachel Wood has spoken candidly about her bisexuality and the importance of bi-visibility in the media as she accepted an award from the Human Rights Campaign this week.
The Westworld star described growing up in North Carolina and being unable to make sense of her sexuality.
“I didn’t realise that there was anything that would have been considered different about me until I was 12 years old – right around when puberty and sexual feelings start to take over – and I felt something that I couldn’t explain,” said Wood.
“I thought women were beautiful, and I realised I had always thought women were beautiful. But because I was born that way, I never once stopped to think that was strange or anything to fear.”
She says that she instinctively hid her feelings, having witnessed how the LGBT+ community was treated with hate speech and taunting.
“I had no way to put what I felt into words. I had no role model, no one I knew was talking about it, I wasn’t exposed. So the only thing that I knew was fear and confusion and loneliness.
“How can you be who you are when you don’t understand what you’re feeling?
Wood says a “lightbulb went off” when she first heard an actress use the word ‘bisexual’. She says the word made her feel “less crazy” and “less alone, saying it made a world of difference to her life and her identity.
“Because of the voices I listened to, because of the people I identified with, the films I had watched, the music I had heard, because of words like ‘bisexual’ and the doors that it opened, I’m still here — and I didn’t miss out on the most beautiful thing I’ve seen yet, and that was my son,” says Wood.
She spoke of the responsibility that the entertainment industry has to the LGBT+ community.
“As an actor, my job is to look at a stranger and find myself in them ― to connect the dots, to have such empathy for a character that I can read someone else’s words and be moved to tears.
“I realised that every time I had reached out my hand to someone through a song or a performance of mine I was also reaching for someone’s hand. I see you, you see me. We aren’t so different. And through that connection, the healing begins.”