Actress and singer Alyson Stoner, who rose to fame through dancing in music videos and starring on the Disney Channel has come out in a beautifully moving and deeply vulnerable personal essay about falling in love with a woman. In her essay on Teen Vogue, Stoner talks about struggling to reconcile her sexuality with herself and with her religious beliefs. She writes about her struggles and her journey to self acceptance and loving herself as a woman who loves other women. Stoner doesn’t use any specific labels in her essay, but does say that she is “attracted to men, women and people who identify other ways” and that she’s currently in love with a woman.
Anyone who’s been a fan of hip-hop, dance or the Disney Channel over the last 18 years knows who Alyson Stoner is. She was Sally, the sister and co-host of Mike’s Super Short Show. She was the girl dancing in the Missy Elliot videos. She was In Suite Life and Phinneas and Pherb and a half dozen other Disney shows. She was Caitlyn in Camp Rock. She was Camille in two of the Step Up movies. Alyson Stoner was known for her sweet dance moves, bubbly and energetic personality and just a little bit of edge.
In the essay, Stoner describes seeing the woman that she fell in love with for the first time. “There she was, wearing loose jeans and a backward snapback. She flipped and rolled her body around with adventure and total abandon,” Stoner writes. “As a Type A perfectionist, I was mesmerized and intimidated.” After that first encounter, Stoner says she knew this woman would be a huge part of her life. They became very close friends, then Stoner says they moved on to kissing and then onto being in love. However, Stoner was internally struggling. Her faith was important to her and she had grown up believing being gay was a sin. Like many others who grow up in Christian churches, she tried to find ways to explain away her feelings.
My faith at that time played a large role in every aspect of my life, and my worldview neither supported nor accepted same-sex relationships. I prayed in turmoil nightly, begging to be healed from these desires. Certain pastors and community members tried to reverse and eliminate my attraction to her. I pursued physical relationships with men to convince myself that my love for her was just a spiritual battle attacking my character and discernment. I pored over texts, contemporary and ancient, seeking truth and answers from professors, scientists, church leaders, friends, and family.
Being one’s self can only be hidden for so long, and soon, Stoner found herself praying to God, begging for forgiveness because she knew that she had to be herself even though in her mind, that meant going to Hell. But when she did that, Stoner says she “felt an inexplicable embrace. Slowly, a curiosity set in, as if giving up might actually be the impetus needed to see life, God, love, humanity, and (literally) everything in a new way.”
Alyson Stoner has gone through an extremely difficult, and far too common journey to self acceptance. And by sharing it in such an open and beautiful way, she’s going to be helping so many people who will come out after her. Thank you Alyson for sharing your experiences with us, this means the world. Congratulations on finding happiness and love, and welcome to the family.