Actress Kristen Stewart has revealed that industry insiders warned that her sexuality may be an obstacle in her career. Stewart discussed the comment and the media’s treatment of her sexuality more broadly in an interview with Harpers Bazaar.
The writer of the piece, Sophie Elmherst, asked her how she handled the persistent public scrutiny of her sexuality. Stewart responded by explaining that trying to hide her attraction to women was preventing her from enjoying her life. She also credits the younger generation and its activists for giving her the confidence to define herself in her own terms.
The former Twilight star does not like labels and refuses to be pushed into choosing one. She explained, “I just think we’re all kind of getting to a place where – I don’t know, evolution’s a weird thing – we’re all becoming incredibly ambiguous, […] And it’s this really gorgeous thing.“
However the 29-year-old is also very aware that not everyone is so open-minded. She commented, “I have fully been told, ‘If you just like do yourself a favor, and don’t go out holding your girlfriend’s hand in public, you might get a Marvel movie.‘”
Stewart was undeterred by the comment. She told Elmherst, simply, that she didn’t want to work with people who thought that way.
The remark is a uncomfortable reminder that Hollywood is not the progressive beacon it is often credited as. The number of movies with any LGBTQ characters dropped to a record low in 2017. Compared to the year prior, representation dropped by almost 40%. The figure represents only 14 wide releases compared to a 23 the year before.
Superficial nods to inclusion (such as the announcement that Lefou would be an openly gay character in the Beauty and the Beast reboot despite there being no confirmation of this in the film) are not enough to overcome Hollywood’s homophobic history. Serious work needs to be done to ensure that actors never have to fear repercussions for being open about their sexuality.