Kristen Stewart may be the most reluctant movie star of all time. This may be because she is in the movies at a time when the public demands more from its stars than ever before. While Greta Garbo may have famously said, “I want to be alone,” today’s celebrities simply do not have that option. There’s a camera in every pocket, a video recorder at every fingertip. The Internet never sleeps, fandom never stops. Now, don’t worry, this is not a boo-hoo sob story for the plight of the rich and famous. Certain jobs come with certain drawbacks, and we all know that going in. Their success also comes with spectacular rewards and unparalleled privileges.
Still the thing with K-Stew is that we’ve been speculating about her sexuality publically for perhaps longer than she has been pondering it privately. When most of us first saw her as that gangly, pale tomboy in “Panic Room,” she was only 10. Now at 25, she has spent much more than half of her life in the glare of the spotlight. For us gay ladies, Kristen has been a nod-and-wink subject of conversation for years. Even if we didn’t know, we thought we knew. She just always felt like family.
So now, in perhaps her most candid interview about her personal life, Kristen has achieved possibly the perfect non-coming-out coming out statement. As she told Nylon magazine:
“Google me, I’m not hiding,” she told Nylon. “If you feel like you really want to define yourself, and you have the ability to articulate those parameters and that in itself defines you, then do it. But I am an actress, man. I live in the fucking ambiguity of this life and I love it. I don’t feel like it would be true for me to be like, ‘I’m coming out!’ No, I do a job. Until I decide that I’m starting a foundation or that I have some perspective or opinion that other people should be receiving... I don’t. I’m just a kid making movies…..Her statement can be seen as inspiring or irritating – or a little bit of both – to those of us in the LGBT community. There is an undeniable desire to have more celebrities come out and say in simple terms that even a great-grandma in Idaho can understand that, “Yep, I’m gay.” There is no more ambiguity when it comes to Ellen DeGeneres or Ellen Page or all of the other famous folks not named Ellen who have come out as gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans or queer, et al. Each new person’s straight-forward declaration of self is critical to our continued progress toward full civil right. In short, coming out still matters.
I think in three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing.”
So to some Kristen’s non-committal, non-labeling, non-hiding, non-coming out is a disappointment. But, in so many other ways, it’s exactly the opposite. Because I don’t know how anyone can read those comments and continue to see her as totally straight, either. And isn’t that what the gay rights movement has been fighting for all along? The right to just be ourselves – whatever that may be.
Now, I could go on and on and on about this new age of nonchalant sexual otherness. And, indeed, I already have. My Women & Hollywood column for this week is all about Kristen and the evolving politics of coming out. (So, if you’d be so kind, please take a peek and tell me what you think.)
But what I do think is however we feel about Kristen’s sexual politics, it probably says as much about us than it does about her. So when we’re unpackaging what we find problematic or laudable about her, we are also dissecting our own desire for more political capital and/or acknowledging our own projection of idealized heroism.
Just because she was in those sparkly vampire movies doesn’t mean we’re owed anything when it comes to her private life. In the end, we’re all just imperfect humans fumbling around on this crazy big blue marble trying to figure out who the fuck we are. Happy weekend, all.