What’s more influential than a Disney pre-teen queen? Considering the world seems to be ruled by twelve year olds, probably nothing. Bella Thorne was one of those royal rulers, with her position as the next Miley Cyrus when Disney’s Shake It Up (co-starring soon-to-be feminist icon Zendaya) rolled out. A theme song performed by Selena Gomez drew crowds to the show, and it didn’t take long before it was plastered on every magazine, commercial, and kids’ t-shirt across the nation. The show lasted three years, wrapping up in 2013, and saw both of its stars to bright futures. Bella’s included movies, novels, and producing, along with a relationship with fellow Disney star, Gregg Sulkin.
Bella and Gregg called it quits earlier this summer (not that it’s stopped them from working together: Bella’s producing his new film). It wasn’t long after that that Thorne posted a photo to Snapchat kissing another girl, and it sparked an onslaught of tweets asking if the starlet was bisexual.
This by itself wouldn’t make for much of a story, or at least one that can be found in places other than trashy magazines at the checkout line. Instead, it’s how Bella responded that makes this a revolutionary event in pop culture.
One word, three letters. It answers the question everyone is dying to know, and simultaneously “exposes” Thorne to the world. It doesn’t really feel like an exposé, an outing, or an announcement, does it? Yet by keeping things simple, Bella spoke louder than most. We’re living in a world where sexualities other than straight are strange and outcasted. When a celebrity announces theirs, it’s usually via a conference or an article or a speech. It’s then defended, it’s discussed and it’s usually followed by hundreds of publications pulling apart words and rearranging thoughts to gain readers.
How do you make “yes” anything more or less than what it is? You can’t. She’s acknowledged it, she’s answered a question fans wanted to know, and she didn’t make it a big deal. It isn’t one. In a perfect world, claiming bisexuality would be about as interesting as revealing your middle name. It’s good to know, but it doesn’t change the way anyone thinks of you. In a perfect world, when someone asks a celebrity, a teacher, a parent, a friend, if they identify with a certain sexuality, the answer can simply be “yes” or “no.” We aren’t there yet of course, because although there isn’t much to say about a three letter tweet, the media still made the most of it. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, although you can’t help thinking that maybe the starlet didn’t want it at all.
With or without media interference, by coming out Bella has shown bi boys and girls everywhere it’s okay to be who they are. In a world where biphobia has made itself known in the LGBT+ community nearly as much as outside of it, embracing the sexuality is an uphill battle. When you’ve been told bi means confused, it can be hard to come out. When you can’t convince your S.O’s bi doesn’t mean unfaithful, it’s hard to stay out. And when you feel like you don’t belong in safe spaces that escape heteronormativity, it’s hard not to feel alone.
The disbelief of bisexuality has allowed it to become a whisper. There are kids that find themselves attracted to girls and boys, but have no idea how that could be. There are kids who won’t consider bisexuality as an option, and try to force themselves to pick “just one”. There are adults with extremely damaged self images because being bisexual means being indecisive, immature, and an attention whore. Bella Thorne’s acceptance of her own bisexuality gives hope to each and every one of them.
The actress has brought us one step further to normalizing bisexuality, or any sexuality, for that matter. Just like “No” is a complete sentence, “Yes” can be too. There’s nothing inherently strange or wrong about bisexuality. You have nothing to defend, and nothing to explain. You have the same capacity to love, to be loyal, to date, and to live. You just like two genders instead of one.
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed on our Artist Corner and Blog are exclusively of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of Punk Out as an organization.