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.