Why it matters that Amandla Stenberg just came out on Snapchat
It’s no secret that Amandla Stenberg, who some might remember as Rue from the first installment of The Hunger Games, is wise far beyond her years. At the ripe age of 17, the actress has become an outspoken proponent of not only feminism, but equality in all forms—even going so far as to very publicly school Kylie Jenner on cultural appropriation.
This week, Stenberg revealed, though, that her status as a minority goes far beyond the color of her skin. In a special Snapchat for Teen Vogue (she’s the magazine’s February 2016 cover star), the teen revealed that she identifies as bisexual, a sexual preference that remains woefully misunderstood by mainstream culture even though more and more Americans, and especially women, identify as such.
“It’s deeply bruising to fight against your identity and mold yourself into shapes you just shouldn’t be in,” says Stenberg. “As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman I’ve been through it, and it hurts, and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable.”
Stenberg had her first serious run-in with racism when she starred alongside Jennifer Lawrence in the first Hunger Games film. As some may recall, less progressive audiences didn’t believe the character Rue should be black, though she is described as having dark skin and brown hair in the Suzanne Collins books. Accordingly, social media was overrun with racial slurs and comments aimed at the then-13-year-old.
“That was the first moment I realized being black was such a crucial part of my identity in terms of the way that I was perceived and how it would affect any line of work that I wanted to pursue,” she says in her Teen Vogue interview with Solange Knowles.
As she points out in her Snapchat video, it’s women like Solange as well as Selma director (and limited edition Barbie) Ava DuVernay and all-around creative force Willow Smith that have inspired her to keep her head up, practice self-love, and to love whoever she wants to love without fear of reprisal.
“We cannot be suppressed,” Stenberg says. “We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears and be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow.”
Here’s hoping young women and men struggling with their sexuality find solace in Amandla Stenberg’s brave decision to come out because when it comes down to it, visibility is everything.
(Image via Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com)