Jena Malone Comes Out as Pansexual By Doing An Interpretive Dance on Instagram

Feature image photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tribeca Festiva

One of my favorite things about my career has been witnessing all the ways coming out has changed over the years for celebrities. The days of months-long behind-the-scenes PR campaigns to ready the world for a People magazine cover are long gone. These days, gay actors just show up on red carpets with girlfriends or post their proposal pics on Instagram. This weekend, Jena Malone — best known for being in literally every movie you’ve ever seen — did it in a brand new way: with interpretive dance! In between promo for her new film, Adopting Audrey, Malone did some stretching, spins, whirs, and jiggles (and other official dance verbs) to honor her evolving understanding of her sexuality.

Her caption reads:

I guess It felt like I was a heterosexual man in a woman’s body. I visualized his desires and placed them on to me. But this was never the whole of the story that was meant for me. So I’ve been learning a new way to tell it. Using words to guide me not define me. That my sexual identity has more to teach and to tell me. Finding words that feel more right to explore in my telling. Pansexuality. Sapiosexuality. Polyamory. A fuller spectrum of understanding that my story is demanding of me. And I’m honoring it today with this soft and sleepy little stretch of a dance. I love humans. So there’s that. I was going to post this on Panexual Awareness Day but I’m a mom and I’m always a few months late for everything.

I don’t know, man, I just think that’s so cool. It’s not super common for celebs to just come out when they don’t have relationship news to share, but Malone did it on a casual weekend day because she felt like it. And instead of pressure, it’s all freedom.

Malone’s been a fave for me since she played the outlandish Lydia Bennet in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice, one of my all-time favorite movies, but she didn’t really break through the queer noise until she played fan favorite Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in 2013. Her chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence was off the charts and way more people were into Katniss and Johanna than Katniss and Bread and/or Gale. And, well, even if you weren’t shipping that, Malone still stole every scene she was in. Since then, she’s ping-ponged between blockbusters and indie films, but she told The Hollywood Reporter that Adopting Audrey is her best work yet.

She also told them that coming out “felt so nice. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. The sexual journey is so beautiful. I mean, all of the identity journeys are so cool. I feel like I’m a little bit late to the game in being able to have less shame. I’ve been loving the process of learning more about myself and others through different terms that open windows, those windows then turns into doors and then I arrive at a place to find all this cool stuff out there. It’s a part of humanity now to have all these ceremonies of exclamation around coming out and renouncing [an identity] and celebrating that space for yourself. It’s a really sweet, human experience. I love getting to learn more about myself no matter the age or my experience.”

It IS a really sweet, human experience. Welcome to the team, Jenna. Your Rockford Peaches baseball cap is in the mail.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


      • I think a lot of people find it pretentious to make a whole sexual identity out of ‘I’m into smart people.’ Also, most people are attracted to intelligence in some way or another. (Is anyone aroused by someone not being very bright?) But the intelligence signified by ‘sapiosexual’ is often tied to university education and a sense of superiority. Like the guy at the party who boasts about his reading list.

        • As someone who did use it once to indicate “being attracted to brains”, I always thought of it as somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It IS a pretentious way to say “competence is hot”.I also don’t think anyone uses it as an ~identity. If they do, yikes.

          Anyway, maybe the news that it’s not seen as a joke by way too many people and it’s now a bit cringe hasn’t caught up with Jenna yet. Language can evolve at the speed of light.

          As someone into open relationships, I admit to having the same cringe re polyamory – I loathe it – but here we all are with it as the most common term for something that intersects with my preferred relationship paradigm. :(

        • I don’t quite follow why it’s okay to make a judgment against using specific language to describe a very specific type of attraction…..we talk all the time about allowing people to self-describe in ways that feel comfortable for them but all of a sudden someone who uses language that other people think is pretentious and it is not okay? Respectfully, that sounds like tone policing to me.

          I think it’s dangerous to play the association game based on what people think a word means or implies (with the notable exception of using slurs/derogatory terms). Language is super fluid. So much of how we understand words and language is tied to our experiences with it, and that has a lot to do with who introduced it to us, the context of the introduction, the area of the world you are from, etc. Meanings of words change all the time, even within a relatively short time frame.

          As for arousal, my experience is that folks speak about physical attraction first. That might not be what sustains a longterm relationship, nor does it represent everything someone finds attractive/arousing, but it is very often the thing they first consciously identify, and it is also often a dealbreaker if there is no physical attraction.

          I took sapiosexual to mean that the first/predominant thing which attracts/arouses someone is the intelligence of the person. Qualitatively different than “they have a great body” or “they have a beautiful face.” I don’t usually hear someone start with “they are so smart!”

    • This whole dunking on the “sapiosexuality” thing is part of what makes leftie/liberal discourse so frustrating at times. Is Jenna really meaning to imply that she thinks “intellectually superior” people are the only ones worth shagging, or is she a tiny bit behind on her Buzzfeed reading, and hasn’t learned how there’s a whole connotation (probably richly-deserved) of pretentiousness now?

      A little bit of grace for some people’s trivial verbal slip-ups would be nice.

      If she IS that pretentious, it doesn’t come across in that post. Sometimes things really do exceed their best-by date, but this isn’t even offensive.

  1. Sounds hypocritical. She’s actually using words to define her!!!
    What is this, some exclusive Fucking club?
    Depeche Mode sang “people are people.”

    But clearly some are missing that point. They wanna be something more than. Can’t simply just be. Gotta make a press release about this and that. Shit that has nothing to do with being an actor/actress, etc.

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