I don’t think anybody would have thought that Bella Swan of the Twilight series, who spent her on-screen teenage years swooning over a sparkly vampire and a shirtless werewolf, would turn out to be one of the most prevalent LGBTQ icons working in Hollywood today. And yet, here she is, Kristen Stewart.
Stewart’s trajectory to gay icon status has been an interesting one. Ever since the early days of her career, she’s essentially had all eyes on her, which can be a lot of pressure for someone discovering their identities for the first time and growing into who they really are. She says of this exact circumstance, “Because I’m such a people person. I’m so interested in them that it’s really annoying they’re so interested in me. Because I can’t look at anyone without them noticing me. I want to be able to sit in a room and people-watch. And that’s difficult for me. It’s a unique perspective, for sure.”
After her romance with co-star Robert Pattinson ended, she made plenty of headlines with her subsequent romantic relationships with Alicia Cargile, Soko, and Stella Maxwell, one-half of America’s sweethearts was now changing perspectives. However, as the mid-2010s would have it, her pairings would often get dubbed as friendships or “gal pals” even as she publically gushed, “Right now I’m just really in love with my girlfriend,” as early as 2014.
Her increasing level of comfort in going public with these relationships offered visibility for her to express and explore herself. Stewart simply began to garner a lot of attention, because although she was open about her sapphic relationships, she was relatively reserved about them, too. Really, she acted like any young celebrity dating around in Hollywood.
There are plenty of other details contributing to the attention to Kristen Stewart’s relationships—the fact that she and her partners are all attractive and effortlessly fashionable, the stark switch from teen-heartthrob lover to sapphic rock star, it is her genuine talent that makes her worth the attention ten times over. One thing about the actor is clear: she became an icon simply by being herself.
However, this did lead to some speculation, specifically about the details of her sexuality and identity. The phrase “lesbian icon” has been tossed around a lot to describe Stewart, even though she’s made herself clear that she identifies as bisexual, not a lesbian. This mentality is often referred to as “bi-erasure” or “bisexual erasure” as people often leave out bisexuality as a valid LGBTQ identity.
Speaking on her status within the LGBTQ community, she’s said, “[It’s] been nothing but positive. I mean, it’s hard to talk about. I don’t want to seem presumptuous, because everyone has their own experience. The whole issue of sexuality is so grey. I’m just trying to acknowledge that fluidity, that greyness, which has always existed. But maybe only now are we allowed to start talking about it.”
Relating specifically to her bisexuality, she continues, “I mean, yeah, it’s definitely still there. People still have some horrendous fucking experiences. But it’s cool that you don’t have to nail everything down any more. That whole certainty about whether you’re straight or gay or whatever. You’re not confused if you’re bisexual. It’s not confusing at all. For me, it’s quite the opposite.”
Although she’s used the term “gay” intermittently before as well, it seems that Stewart does so as a blanket statement, as many queer and bi people do as a part of the LGBT community (for example, during her SNL monologue back in 2017). But as she said, even though things are fluid, she’s not confused. She knows who she is, and has the confidence to live her truth.
Seeing the progression of Kristen Stewart growing into someone who is both comfortable and eye-catching on-screen and in her real life is an amazing thing both for her fans and for those who can look up to her. From her Oscar nomination for the film Spencer to her engagement to her partner Dylan Meyer, she’s proven to be not only a bisexual icon, but also someone who is simply living her best life and enjoying every moment of it authentically.