When I was a kid, the word "queer" was deemed a bad, bad word.
I will never, ever, ever, ever forget sitting in the back seat of an older boy's car in the seventh grade (why these creepy 28-year-old boys were hanging around seventh-grade prepubescent girls is the real issue) and hearing the scary-looking driver point at two adorable skinny boys crossing the street, hand in hand.
It was 1999, I'll never forget it. The scary driver manually rolled down his window and shouted into the Long Island streets, "FUCKING QUEERS, GO KILL YOURSELF" right at the two innocent men.
I might have been so young my teeth still had braces, but I swear to God, in that moment I hated that driver with every fiber of my 12-year-old being. I'd never heard the word "queer" before but I inherently knew it was an anti-gay slur. I had good homophobia alarms, even then.
But you know what I love, love, love? I love when people who've been wildly oppressed get together and reclaim a bad word. I read the manifesto "Cunt: A Declaration of Independence" when I was a sophomore in high school and was instantly hooked on to the idea of redefining negativity (GUESS WHAT, a used edition is on sale at Barnes & Noble right now for $1.99. Get it, girl! Early 2000s feminism is where it's at).
I've done it with the word "pussy" as well. If a "pussy" is a vagina, why would we ever bestow such a beautiful, powerful body part with a negative meaning? I mean, it's why we are all here (and why some of us are queer).
And it's happened, finally, with the lovely little word queer. Oh, I love the word queer. To me, being queer is about ripping off the stifling oppression of "labels" and owning that. Yes, babe, you're a sexual being but you don't need to limit yourself to those crippling boxes of "gay" or "straight."
After all, isn't sexuality fluid? Even if I'm totally into women and have been my entire life, I'm still fluid in the type of women I'm attracted to. We evolve in so many different ways throughout our lifetimes, why would our sexuality be the one thing that remained flat-lined? Why would we lock as deeply complex and innately visceral as sexuality into a box? Nah, doesn't make sense. Boxes are for moves, labels are for my collection of vintage Chanel kimonos (fine, I don't collect vintage Chanel kimonos, but I will one day).
I can't imagine growing up without the pressure of sexual labels. When I was in high school I once confessed that I hooked up with a girl at camp and suddenly my entire identity was wrapped around being a "LESBIAN." It shut me and my sexuality down in a New York City second. I wasn't ready to commit to any of those labels, I was just a young kid with a crush on a girl. But the pressure of labels stopped me from exploring my sexuality in my most impressionable, formative years.
People have a lot to say about young people today. But I think young people are super kickass when it comes to sexuality. They're on the forefront, boldly trailblazing the great change in how the world views sexuality. They're liquid about their sexuality and open to loving whoever the hell they want to love. They define sexuality in a non-text book way, a way that works for them.
Here are 11 young celebrities who don't identify as gay or straight, but rather as human beings with their own definition of what it means to be a sexual being.
1. Miley Cyrus
The 23-year-old pop icon identifies as pansexual. She recently told Elle UK,
I'm very open about it -- I'm pansexual. But I'm not in a relationship. I'm 22, I'm going on dates, but I change my style every two weeks, let alone who I'm with.
The trailblazing star went on to explain what pansexuality means to her,
I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn't involve an animal and everyone is of age... Everything that's legal, I'm down with. Yo, I'm down with any adult -- anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me. I don't relate to being boy or girl and I don't have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.
2. Cara Delevingne
It's no surprise that the quirky, open, gorgeous, stunning, outspoken model has finally decided to be open about her sexuality as well.
In last July's issue of Vogue, Cara Delevingne, 23, spoke about her relationships with both men and women. She put down rumors about her bisexuality being a phase and confessed that “being in love” with her girlfriend Annie Clark (real name of singer/songwriter St. Vincent) is a major part of why she's so happy with who she is these days.
3. Kristen Stewart
Twilight icon, Kristen Stewart, firmly believes in fluidity and once told Nylon magazine she thinks that in a few years people won't need to associate with the stifling labels of "gay" or "straight," instead saying, "It's like, just do your thing."
I admire Stewart's strength in not succumbing to conforming to pressing labels despite heaps of societal pressure about her relationship statuses with alleged flames photographer Alicia Cargile and indie singer SoKo.
The media has been obsessed with defining the young star's sexuality since her breakup with Robert Patterson. However, she doesn't seem to give a damn. She told Variety, "Me not defining it right now is the whole basis of what I'm about. If you don't get it, I don't have time for you."
4. Rowan Blanchard
The 14-year-old "Girl Meets World" star took to Twitter to open up about her sexuality. Rowan chooses to identify as "queer," but also feels extremely strongly about labeling others.
In my life -- only ever liked boys... However I personally don't wanna label myself as straight, gay or whateva so I am not gonna give myself labels to stick with -- just existing.
The wise teenager realizes that sexuality is fluid, hopefully easing the pressure of several of her peers who are tormented by the concept of stifling sexuality, "Yes, [I'm] open to liking any gender in future is why I identify as queer."
In an interview with Rolling Stone, singer/songwriter Halsey talked about her bisexuality, earning her the "tri-bi" label on the internet. The"tri-bi" label blew up when Halsey dared to be open not just about her bisexuality, but being biracial and bipolar.
Halsey dismisses this label, saying, “I fucking hate it, the idea that something like that would be trivialized down to a fucking hashtag.” She is, however, extremely proud to call herself a bisexual and constantly speaks up against biphobia.
The powerhouse singer recently spoke about the importance of owning your sexuality to Oyster magazine,
I want to instill into my listeners that being sexy is not something that other people tell you that you are. It's something you need to discover about yourself, it's something you deserve to discover about yourself. Someone telling you, you are sexy doesn't make you sexy. I think there's a sexual nature to me and my album that people don't understand. I don't disrespect myself or my sexuality. If I can own it, if I can control it, then nobody can take it away from me.
6. Lily-Rose Depp
The 16-year-old daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis made headlines last year when she came out as “[falling] somewhere on the vast spectrum” of sexuality when she posed for The Self Evident Truths project.
Of course the media exploded and quickly boxed her in as gay. She told Nylon magazine that her words were misconstrued by the media,
I was literally doing it just to say that you don't have to label your sexuality; so many kids these days are not labeling their sexuality and I think that's so cool.
She also added that she is going to fiercely “date whoever I'm going to date.” As you should, girl. AS YOU SHOULD.
7. Ezra Miller
Ezra Miller told The Advocate why it was important for him to come out as "queer" rather than "gay."
It's generational in the way that that term is newly available in a certain way... I think it feels the most open and inclusive and that's what makes it apply for me personally.
The actor went on to note,
I think there are a lot of people who fall on this open spectrum of sexuality... My friends and I use that word as an all-encompassing banner and for every human being. There should be an ongoing question and investigation of who you love and everything that's involved with that very tricky and beautiful thing.
8. Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood took to Twitter to discuss her bisexuality, boldly tweeting,
Bisexual people are the largest single group within the LGBT community, yet we are hardly recognized. I can assure you that whatever 'straight privilege' I sometimes get accused of having, gets erased by #biphobia.
9. Lady Gaga
There is no greater supporter of the queer community than our QUEEN Lady Gaga. In a candid 2013 interview with LGBTQ+ icon Andy Cohen she broke her sexuality down in the most frank way possible,
I like girls. I've said that (before). I know people think I just say things to be shocking, but I actually do like pussy. It just depends on whose pussy it is... It's similar to how I feel about guys.
10. Amber Heard
Amber Heard has been open about her sexuality despite attacks from the LGBTQ+ community when she left her girlfriend, photographer Tasya van Ree and began her relationship with Johnny Depp,
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.
Indie singer Soko told W magazine when pressed about her former relationship with actress Kristen Stewart,
I've always been open with my sexuality, meaning I don't really care about gender. So yeah, ladies have definitely been crass, too. I prefer when it's girls saying things like that than guys. But also I'm up for it. Sex for so long was such a taboo thing. You couldn't be free with your sexuality and say that you like it. But it's one of the biggest joys of life. If you find one partner who you love having sex with, it's the best! This new generation is a lot more liquid with sexuality and it's really refreshing.
At the end of the day, our sexual orientation isn't for anyone else to define. Our sexuality is our own and it's something no one can ever take away from us. So screw the boxes, screw the labels and get inspired by these fierce individuals.