Shannon Purser Is Bisexual: Stranger Things’ Star Is Her Own Justice for Barb

Feature image by Anna Ritch

Last week Shannon Purser said that getting comfortable with your sexuality is hard, but then hey guess what? She came out as bisexual last night! In a statement on Twitter, the Stranger Things breakout superstar said:

I don’t normally do this, but I figure now is just as good a time as any to get personal. I’ve only just recently come out as bisexual to my family and friends. It’s something I am still processing and trying to understand and I don’t like talking about it too much. I’m very new to the LGBT community.

The rest of her statement is a crash course in being a queer person on the internet, by which I mean: soothing angry shippers/wranglin’ gay bees. Something about Betty and Veronica and queerbaiting and it doesn’t matter.

Here’s what matters: Shannon Purser is a deeply devoted Christian who has openly struggled with being bisexual and coming out. It doesn’t take a creative reading between the lines of her tweets to see that. We joke around here all the time that everyone is gay and of course 20 percent of Millennials now identify as LGBTQ, but there’s a serious and almost shocking cultural shift behind that statistic. Evangelical Christianity has always disapproved of gay stuff, but in the mid-’90s the Republican Party came together with folks like Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson to specifically go after gay people. Falwell and Dobson wanted to the political power to legislate their puritanical views and the GOP was happy to reap the votes from the scapegoating. Gay people have been the Religious Right’s favorite target for decades.

We’re only just starting to know the adults who grew up with Glee and Modern Family and Pretty Little Liars, the adults who ingested a persistent pop culture message that baby you were born this way (and that’s better than okay!). Shannon Purser was one of those kids! She’s only 19 years old! And now she’s out!

One of the things Purser has been tweeting about a lot lately is suicide prevention, and warning her followers to stay away from specific shows if they have struggled with suicidal thoughts. I think the coolest thing you could do today is give her a consensual internet hug.

And hey, Shannon Purser, if you’re reading this (or if you’re a Christian struggling with your sexuality and reading this), here’s a thing I wrote about how the Bible doesn’t actually condemn gay people. I broke it down by all the clobber passages Conservatives use to try to shame us. You might also enjoy Audrey’s piece on how breaking bread with queer Christians helped her rediscover radical love, or her piece on the LGBTQ-friendly Our Bible App, or our roundtable on how our Christian writers make their faith tangible.

Welcome to the family, Shannon. We’re glad you’re here/we’ll never stop seeking #JusticeForBarb.

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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.


  1. This is so wonderful, congratulations and thank you for being so brave Shannon! Thanks for signposting Heather, your blog post is really great.

  2. Wonderful article, Heather. Welcome to the fold, Shannon!

    I’m so proud to hear of folks who overcoming religious adversity to be happy. That doesn’t mean that you can’t remain religious. I guess, what I’m trying to say is I recognize your struggles as someone who isn’t all that religious and think you’re beautiful.

  3. 34 and just came out as bisexual ( and poly) to my evangelical parents. My mom is struggling but trying to love and accept me. Dad cut me and my kids out of his life. Which is hard because he’s still married to my mom. :-P

    My husband has known forever, and many friends for a few years. But it was time to be fully out. My in-laws love and support me and they’re Christian, too, and my pastor is loving even though she doesn’t understand poly.

    Many props to her for coming out, especially in a faith that’s been so hostile.

    • Thanks for this comment! I’ve been feeling alone lately. I’m 30 and just out as bisexual to my husband and some friends and family. We’re poly as well, and honestly that feels like the harder thing to explain sometimes. Like, I can totally imagine telling my mom I’m bi (mostly because she often cornered me as a teen to ask me if I was actually into girls and not boys…ha) but I can’t imagine trying to explain the poly thing. If anyone has tips please share!

      • Yeah, nobody has been surprised by my being bi… in college my mom asked if I was a lesbian.

        I just blurted it out there with her and other people. So far my friends and in-laws ask good questions, but it totally freaked my dad out and he can’t process it. I’ve read stuff on how to come out, but didn’t really take any of their advice!!

        Hardest thing was knowing I needed to come out for myself to feel honest, when on the surface nobody would know that our girlfriend is anything more than just a great family friend.

  4. Riverdale is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me and part of the reason I watch it is for Shannon Purser. Her twitter is often very thoughtful & I wish her luck on reconciling her faith & her sexuality. Welcome to the team Shannon. (:

  5. I love everything about this! Also, if you haven’t read Heather’s piece on growing up as a queer person in the church, do yourselves a favor. That piece changed my life. I don’t know where I would be without it.

  6. This is such a lovely and kind response, much better than my immediate reaction of OMG MARRY ME. Welcome to the community, Shannon!

  7. Ahh yes, continuing my lifelong tradition of being like “hmm I don’t know why, I’m just really into this character for some random reas–OHHHH” ?

  8. As a lifelong Christian who recently discovered that I exist somewhere under the trans* umbrella it’s always very heartening to see others like me. Especially thank you for linking the other articles concerning queer Christianity–it’s so difficult to find that stuff and it’s really needed.

  9. But really, shouldn’t we have known this was coming when Barb could tell Nancy was wearing a new bra without even having to see it through her shirt?

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