Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood says bisexual visibility is essential.
“Growing up I thought that I was like every other girl who had a slight obsession with Jessica Rabbit, K.D. lang, and Melissa Etheridge,” said Wood at HRC’s North Carolina Gala on Saturday, where she was honored with the group’s Visibility Award.
“A girl who was more comfortable borrowing her brothers baggy pants and backwards hats than putting on an Easter dress. Who would rather play in the mud than in makeup, and who dropped out of ballet to get her black belt in Taekwondo.”
Because her parents ran a theater company, she said, she was always around groups of artists and never realized there was anything “different” about her. Until she was 12 years old, “right around when puberty and sexual feelings started to take over.”
“I felt something that I couldn’t explain,” recalled Wood, who came out as bisexual in 2012. “And it was something that made my throat close up and my stomach clench. Something that made my mouth go dry and my pulse race. And it was something so simple, yet so terrifying. I thought women were beautiful.”
I myself am bisexual and have always "joked" about miley giving me gay vibes. Not a bad thing! Just an observation.
— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) August 24, 2012
After witnessing anti-LGBT hate speech and bullying firsthand, Wood instinctively buried her feelings: “I silenced my voice because I thought it would save me.”
She was particularly confused, she explained, because “I also thought men were beautiful.” But she lacked the language to express what she was feeling, and had no bisexual role models to look to.
“There was a time, despite what it may have looked like on the surface, that the fear had gripped me so tight, and I felt broken and unloveable. And I did not think that I would see tomorrow.” But then she recalled hearing an actress say the word “Bisexual.”
“And I thought, what the hell is that?” she said. “And when I found out, a light bulb went off. The word didn’t make me feel marginalized. It made me feel less crazy. It made me feel less alone. It gave me hope. An actress just said a word, but it made a world of difference in my life and in my identity.”
After reading the startling statistics about suicide, addiction, and sexual assault among bisexuals, Wood felt compelled to share her story. She made a video for Pride month, sharing her struggles with coming out, sexual abuse and mental health.
“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,” she told attendees. “And I didn’t miss out on the most beautiful thing I’ve seen yet…my son. Visibility creates hope.”