Former Disney star Alyson Stoner has done a lot in her 18-year-long career. The 24-year-old actress has starred in films like Cheaper By The Dozen and Step Up, along with a number of roles Disney Channel series like The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and That’s So Raven.
But in a moving essay for Teen Vogue, Stoner said that she spent the majority of her life suppressing feelings she had deemed as wrong. She went on to reveal that her sexuality is fluid. “I, Alyson, am attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways,” she wrote. “I can love people of every gender identity and expression. It is the soul that captivates me.”
The actress and singer said that her new song, “When It’s Right,” is an ode to what it felt like to fall in love with a woman for the first time. Throughout the letter, Stoner relives a relationship that opened her eyes to her sexuality.
“Our bond didn’t feel quite sisterly or platonic,” she wrote. “Flashes of her smile progressed to flashes of her wavy hair followed by the curve of her hips through her straight-leg pants. I realized I had never fantasized about a guy this way, nor really ever felt comfortable dating guys.”
Stoner said that she went through years of therapy to try and figure out why she felt the way she did. She said that she was in denial of her true feelings because “Like many, I had internalized some of the harmful beliefs and misconceptions about LGBTQ people and identities.”
She also said that she underwent some form of conversion therapy, saying “Certain pastors and community members tried to reverse and eliminate my attraction to her.” She was constantly scared that because of her sexuality and her religious beliefs, she would go to hell.
But along with all of that, Stoner outlined the difficulty that comes with coming out as a public figure. “Imagine receiving death threats (as I have); would you choose to live a lie in order to protect your loved ones?” she asked. “What if your partner felt like you were hiding them and it created stress and tension because you couldn’t be open outside of your home?”
Despite all of her struggles with having to come out, Stoner said that she’s glad she came out, and encouraged those reading to live their truth. “If you’re questioning or struggling with your sexuality, gender identity, or anything else, know that I and so many who’ve gone before us are with you,” she said. “Whatever your identity, you are lovable and wonderful and enough.”
Read Stoner’s full letter here, and listen to her new song “When It’s Right” below: