Actress, dancer and singer Alyson Stoner revealed she’s “attracted to men, women and people who identify in other ways” in a poignant essay for Teen Vogue.
Stoner ― who you may recognize from roles in the TV series “Step Up” and “Cheaper By The Dozen,” or as the little girl who used to dance with Missy Elliot ― opened up about coming to terms with her sexuality and her faith under the constant pressure of fame.
The 24-year-old said she fell in love with a female instructor teaching a dance workshop she attended. For a long time, Stoner said, she wasn’t sure why she felt such a strong connection.
“The question of whether she was a cool new friend or more kept me awake in wonderment and dread,” Stoner wrote in the essay, published Friday. “Our bond didn’t feel quite sisterly or platonic. 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.”
Over time, the relationship became intimate, and Stoner said she fell deeply in love. Her faith, however, made it hard to accept that she could be attracted to women.
“My faith at that time played a large role in every aspect of my life, and my worldview neither supported nor accepted same-sex relationships. I prayed in turmoil nightly, begging to be healed from these desires,” Stoner wrote.
Stoner said she tried conversion therapy and physical relationships with men. Nothing worked, she wrote, and she feared she’d lose her career success.
“Some people in the industry warned me that I’d ruin my career, miss out on possible jobs and potentially put my life in danger if I ever came out,” she wrote. “My dream and all I’d worked tirelessly for since the age of 6 was suddenly at risk by my being ... true to myself.”
In a moment of awakening, Stoner wrote that she finally accepted herself for who she was: “I felt a transformation, an ascension, an approach to life rooted in real love.”
“I, Alyson, am attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways. I can love people of every gender identity and expression,” she wrote. “It is the soul that captivates me. It is the love we can build and the goodness we can contribute to the world by supporting each other’s best journeys.”
Stoner concluded her essay by reaching out to others who may be struggling with their identity.
“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,” Stoner wrote. “Whatever your identity, you are lovable and wonderful and enough.”
Head over to Teen Vogue to read Stoner’s full essay.