Identifying as strictly straight, gay, or bisexual may just not be in the cards for some people. Expert Jordana Michelle explains why Ariana Grande, Ashley Benson, and more may not label themselves with a specific sexuality.
“NASA” singer Ariana Grande, 25, made waves in the news when her song “Monopoly” with BFF Victoria Monet, 25, came out on April 1, and Ari sang lyrics that she likes “women and men.” The star, who has refused to label her sexuality, said on the same day the song dropped, “I haven’t before [labeled her sexuality] and still don’t feel the need to now which is okay.” The singer’s lack of identifying with one specific term isn’t just something she’s doing: It’s a trend on a larger scale for 20-somethings and teens, lesbian love coach Jordana Michelle told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “20-somethings and teens report that they see sexuality as something that’s more ‘fluid,’” she said.
Ariana’s lack of identifying what her sexuality is – while still outright saying she does like women and men – is actually common. Pretty Little Liars actress Ashley Benson, 29, has been romantically linked to model Cara Delevingne, 26, with pictures of them kissing and going on romantic vacations together. But Ashley has never outright defined what her sexuality is, and neither has her former co-star Shay Mitchell, 32. Shay spoke out about her sexuality in an interview with Maxim in 2017. “People always ask me, ‘You play a gay character? Are you gay? Are you straight? Are you this? Are you that?’ Look, [Shay’s character] Emily doesn’t label herself, and I don’t label myself either. I fall in love with the spirit of somebody. Love is love, and that’s something that I’ll keep saying.”
Rowan Blanchard, 17, who was on the Disney Channel show Girl Meets World, also made news, in 2016, when she self-identified under the umbrella term “queer” at just 14 years old. Harry Styles, 25, sang about “messing around” with a man in his unreleased song “Medicine,” which he performed on his solo tour for his debut album. The following line in the song contained a self-affirming lyric, that Harry is “okay with it.” Lesbian love coach Michelle said that due to younger people growing up in a time when “same-sex couples are visible all over pop culture and the media,” labeling oneself is “not necessarily relevant.”
But, even if it isn’t exactly relevant to pinpoint one specific sexuality, it still makes sense for some stars to harness their platform and identify within the LGBTQ+ community. “Visibility has always mattered for gaining rights, because coming out helped our friends and neighbors see that LGBTQ people aren’t ‘scary’ or ‘outsiders’ – we’re part of the fabric of most people’s lives, and worthy of respect and equal treatment under the law,” Michelle said. “There are still a lot of rights that LGBTQ people don’t have in various states. Housing and employment discrimination against LGBTQ people is still totally legal. The road to equality still has a long way to go. So it might still be necessary for people who know they aren’t straight to ‘come out’ at least enough so that their friends and neighbors see that protecting LGBTQ rights matters for protecting people they know and love.”
This isn’t to say that pressure should be put upon those who are vague about their sexuality – stars like Ariana, Harry, Shay, and Ashley have made themselves known to be allies (at the absolute minimum) through their actions by showing up to Pride celebrations and donating money to LGBTQ+ charities. At this point, for them, their actions (and song lyrics!) speak louder than their spoken words. Coming out and claiming a sexual identity if you so choose is such a personal experience, and regardless of any of these stars’ sexual orientations – or your own – it’s something that’s up to each individual person to claim – or not – for themselves.
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