Shay Mitchell Is Not NOT Gay, Technically

Feature image via Cosmopolitan 

Somewhere in the middle of Pretty Little Liars‘ sixth season — while Emily Fields ran around in a the woods in the dark getting murdered a hundred times, and the other Liars fell in and out of love with boys — rumors started to swirl around the internet that PLL‘s writers had stopped giving Emily girlfriends because Shay Mitchell was tired of kissing women. Well, that turns out to be a big fat lie, because Shay Mitchell is not not gay and is maybe going to get herself a girlfriend when she’s 50 years old (which would involve kissing girls, which means she’s fine with it).

Shay is helping the world get ready for “Crazy, Sexy, Wild, OMG Summer Love” on the cover of this month’s Cosmopolitan, and that OMG love, for her, as a woman, could be with another woman, she told the magazine, who told Entertainment Tonight, who told me. Shay Mitchell is “never going to label herself.”

“When I started, people were like, ‘What are you?’ I’m like, right now I’m dating a guy. I don’t know what it’s going to be in three years. You love who you love,” she reveals. “Black, white, polka-dot, that’s what my dad always said … I could be 50 and dating a woman and then what? I said I was straight and now I’m not?”

This is, apparently, not an isolated sentiment. Two entire months ago Shay appeared on Ingrid Nilsin’s The Grid Monster and said the exact same thing.

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Yes, the woman who plays one of the most beloved lesbian characters in TV history told a famous real life queer woman that she “doesn’t know” if she gay. TWO ENTIRE MONTHS. And it wasn’t a big deal! No one even told me! Have we now reached the place where Riese’s theory that everyone is queer is just accepted as IRL canon?

When I started in this business, if you interviewed an actress who played a lesbian or bisexual character, she’d spend the whole interview telling you about her husband and how being straight was like the main thing in her life, super main thing, more then breathing or eating, what she needed was just to be straight and for the world to know she was straight. Not anymore, suckas!

Shay Mitchell joins a long line of Canadian women — including Lost Girl‘s Zoie Palmer and Bomb Girls‘ Ali Liebert — who have pretended to be queer on television and later announced they weren’t exactly straight off of TV, either. When you add Ellen Page to this tally, you really start to wonder if Nova Scotia is the new Lesbos.

I want the Pretty Little Liars I fell in love with to come back to me in season seven, but if it doesn’t, I’m still really hyped that someone as famous and beloved as Shay Mitchell is out there in the world defying heteronormativity and smashing patriarchal ideals. I just hope no fake cousins come to town and chase her to the top of a lighthouse where she has to stab them in the guts to keep them from murdering her girlfriend who’s tied up in the closet. May she have Emily’s way with the ladies, but not her luck.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 904 articles for us.

88 Comments

    • I’m surprised (but glad) that we didn’t see a flurry of articles proclaiming that Shay Mitchell had just come out as queer.

      TBH I kinda find it weird how among young people especially – speaking generally here, not about Shay – it seems like we’ve reached a point where hypothetical attractions are considered to be on par with lived (i.e. actual) attractions. There’s this idea that if you think, “Oh, well, I *could* become attracted to someone of the same gender one day, never say never~”, then that’s enough to be LGBTQ. I’ve read enough stories about women previously identifying as lesbian suddenly falling in love with a man out of the blue to not think that that *could* conceivably happen to me down the line. I don’t THINK it will because my sexuality doesn’t seem fluid to me at all, but whatever, stranger things have happened. (I have wisely chosen to keep this belief from my parents though because I do not want them to get their hopes up lol.) But I don’t call myself bisexual because I have yet to actually feel any sort of attraction to men whatsoever.

      Maybe these are young people who really are feeling the stirrings of same-sex attraction and are just testing the waters? Or maybe they’re not aware of it thanks to repression? I guess I can relate to that; I used to go on about my platonic girl crushes… yeah, turned out that some of those crushes weren’t so platonic after all. Oops.

      • YesYesYes to what you said about hypothetical attractions being treated as on par with actual attractions.

        I had a friend who used to try to school me on The Queer Experience. Her thinking Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz are beautiful did not welcome her to The Club.

      • I mean, I used to say “I could fall in love with someone of any gender”, but wouldn’t call myself bi. I only came out once I had a relationship with a woman, because I didn’t think it really counted otherwise? Although, I was one of those people who came out and surprised almost noone, because I had been giving off queer vibes for years. So, could that be what Shay means? Especially seeing as she has said it in more than one interview. It’s a shame that saying you are bisexual out loud is still so…not said. Anyway, those are my thoughts!

      • I think not identifying as straight can also be a way to escape an often misogynistic dating culture and repressive gender norms. Hopefully in the future, straight women will be able to access a vocabulary expressing the same kind of nuanced identities as queer women now do without necessarily identifying as queer or fluid.
        Also, profile name like!

      • I don’t want to read something into this comment that wasn’t intended, but I do think that care needs to be taken with stuff like this, which can turn into policing other people’s desires or identification. I spent a long time feeling Not Gay Enough because I had internalized exactly this kind of idea: that my knowledge of my own sexuality wasn’t valid until it could be independently verified, i.e. until I’d had sex with a woman at the very least. That’s unfair, and it’s damaging.

        I think (?) that what we’re mostly talking about here is people who are not genuinely queer kind of trying it on for size, or as a social fashion accessory. I get that- it cheapens the reality of it for the rest of us. Just needed to comment because I think it’s so important for anybody who’s reading along quietly to know that if this is who you think you are, it is who you are, and nobody else gets to decide that for you or take it away from you.

        • Trust me: when I made the comment I did not mean it to seem like I need to see credentials and hard statistics of your queerness to validate that identity.

          I think “evil geese everywhere” that replied to this comment nailed it when they talked about feelings vs hypothetical feelings. Which is not to be confused with acted upon feelings or lived experiences.

    • I am a young person and this really bugs me too! Being straight is not any more a bad thing, or any less “cool” than being gay or any other label under the rainbow umbrella and while I love that embracing other sexualities has very much become the norm for younger people (I rarely meet anyone my age at 22 who have strong anti-gay leanings although they may still be twitchy at the insinuation that they could be queer), I hate that it is becoming a symbol of enlightenment to be “straight but somewhere down the line.” It is perfectly ok to say that “right now I find only dudes attractive and I have only boned dudes so I’m straight” and then if that changes, change the godamn description later.

      The other thing seems to be a misunderstanding of identifying as bi, or even pan sexual to a extent that you have to like both genders a equal amount. You really don’t! You may live in a city where the queer population is booming or nonexistent, you might just be more attracted to ladies than dudes or the other way around and you are still covered under the bi unbrella. Being bi (largely bc I personally also qualify non binary peeps into this category as 2 or more) has never really made me feel that I should like everyone the same equal amount but it has surprisingly left a very large population, often ladies lin my experience, with this feeling.

      • As a 15 year old, I will say that there are 7 queer girls in my grade of 65, 5 in the grade above us, 7 in the grade 2 above, and 9 in the grade below. My school is pretty gay. I don’t think that all of this is “oh well I *could* be attracted to anyone,” at least among my age group. I think it’s more not assuming that you’re straight until proven wrong, but that you will see where your attraction lies in time and to not label yourself, because you’re not automatically straight. I don’t know if that made any sense, but that’s how I feel about it.

        • That’s really cool and I would’ve found a lot of relief in that sort of mentality when I was 15. My best friend and I were the only queer girls in our grade (that I knew of) but neither of us were out to more than a few people in our immediate friend group that we knew we could trust. A big part of the reason I didn’t come out until I was already three years into my college experience was because I was overwhelmed by the pressure to choose a DEFINITIVE, UNCHANGING label for other people to use (with the understanding that if I ever recanted or adjusted said label that my sexuality would be deemed less legitimate). That, combined with the fact that most of the people around me were operating under the assumption of “straight until proven gay” and a heaping spoonful of personal shame, was enough to keep me in the closet for a good 7 years after my first “okay, so I DEFINITELY like women” feelings. It would be really nice for people to feel like they could express their desires freely as they experience them, instead of having to spend several exhausting years analyzing and questioning them. I like that a lot.

          So, that part at the very least I’m very, very excited about. Less excited about women who think straight sounds too boring identifying as labelless. I, personally, would maybe like to see a little more creativity amongst straight people to describe and identify their feelings rather than just proclaiming “no labels!” to escape the label of straight.

          • @monique Why are you saying that she’s straight? have you been in her bedroom? can you hear her thoughts at night? you people are so close minded. I can’t believe this is the Autostraddle audience.

          • Oh yeah that’s super gross. But I personally don’t see it happening all that often.

          • @buttahbezofan I’m sorry, you’re right, I didn’t reread my comment and I was assumptive and insensitive. I didn’t mean to say Shay is straight. I was trying to discuss the sort of person who says they “don’t like labels” but then will deny same-sex inclinations by their next breath, and Shay was not doing that. I will be more thorough with my language next time.

    • Are we forgetting the fact that it takes time to come to terms with your sexuality? Right now she’s just open. People did not have a label when they were born. We don’t choose what we feel but we CHOOSE OUR LABELS. It may not be ENOUGH FOR YOU, but it’s ENOUGH FOR SHAY. It didn’t come off as if she was struggling but what if she is, and she sees your comment? would it devastate her, hide, feel anxious, fearful, have an anxiety attack, make her not want to be herself? possibly. There are LGBTQ virgins who has never had gay sex or had a relationship or had a coming out video but they know they’re part of the LGBTQ, their situation is different than most but their identity is still valid and it’s wrong for us to tell them otherwise.

  1. a whole bunch of people love vegemite, i get it. i’m personally not a fun, wont buy it if i have an alternative but if there was an apocalypse and the only thing left for me to eat was vegemite i could see myself eating it. i don’t think my concession convinces anyone that you’ll see me buying vegemite in target tomorrow.

    ……i’m not a fan of these “enlightened” confessions.

    • Evan Rachel Wood. Amandla Stenberg. Monica Raymund. Megan Fox. Azealia Banks. Lady Gaga. Drew Barrymore (or is she too old).
      But nobody seems to take them seriously.
      What a dilemma. People admit that they aren’t 100% straight and no one is satisfied. People come out as bisexual and no one cares or they question their bisexuality because they aren’t in a present relationship with a woman. Or they are just waiting for them to go back to men.
      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

      • I am well versed in the list of famous bisexual women, and I appreciate all of their contributions to visibility and babehood. (Babedom?). It’s also cool if Shay isn’t bi, or doesn’t identify that way now, etc. She doesn’t owe me anything and I don’t watch PLL.

        I was engaging in hyperbole to express my frustration with a particular rhetoric that I see constantly, and the problems with which others in the comments have articulated more thoughtfully.

        Anyway. Cheers.

    • Lots of celebrities have – Anna Paquin and Vanessa Carlton come to mind right away. Unfortunatly, the media doesn’t take it that seriously. With women, people basically forget about it and think of them as straight. With men, people tend to think of them as gay.

      • When Anna Paquin came out, she was engaged or married to a man and many people completely dismissed her. I clearly remember one website calling her coming out “too little, too late”. That line stuck with me. Because apparently she owed the LGBT community to leave her husband and start dating a woman if she wanted to be one of us? That was a few years ago, but we still see the same gross reasoning about bi/pan celebrities in opposite-sex relationships.

  2. Yeah, I get that in ways it can be better than “hi I am just straight all the time forever.” But I’m sick of it because I’ve encountered a lot in straight people who consider themselves “progressive” who are like “hey you can’t tell me I’m not queer because who knows what could happen!” and then severely misunderstand your experiences and needs as a queer person. I’m not going to get into specifics but it’s left a very bad taste in my mouth, from people who leave me either excluded or painfully uncomfortable because I’m a lesbian but do this “I could be with someone of the same sex someday so who are you to say I’m not one of you” thing.

    Also Merritt Kopas had a great tweet about how the “no labels” thing doesn’t super help the people who are in the non-privileged position and likened it to the concept of “color-blindness.”

    • Yeah, I wonder how much of it has to do with the idea that allies should stay in their lane and not speak over LGBTQ voices – which I wholeheartedly agree with – so to an extent I feel like, “Well, I COULD be attracted to women one day,” is a way of circumventing that. Not for everyone – I mean, I’m not getting that vibe from Shay. But I’ve definitely seen this phenomenon elsewhere.

      I honestly think that if it were easier to fake being POC, we’d have more Rachel Dolezals running around. As it is, it’s still a thing for white people to claim that they’re descended from a Cherokee princess and think that that makes them POC. (It’s always Native American and not Black, because the former is exotic and kewl.)

  3. Oh, well, good for her then. If that’s what works for her, that’s great. You do you, right? That’s just my opinion. =)

    I love Pretty Little Liars and have always thought she’s really pretty. I guess that’s also my opinion, ha ha.

  4. I have such mixed opinions on celebrities that are basically straight saying they wouldn’t be against dating a woman. There’s such a big difference between being attracted to women and just acknowledging that they don’t find the idea repulsive. Like, yay for celebrities celebrating sexual fluidity, but I hate when celebrities act like it’s progressive for them to say they wouldn’t mind experimenting.

    Like, good for Shay if she is queer and this is her coming out. But so many female celebrities have bragged about how they have made out with women and liked it, or how they find the idea of a lesbian relationship alluring, but still identify as straight and never actually express attraction to women. It just feels like situations like this give ammo to people trying to discredit bisexuality.

  5. Hogan, where have you been? The Mitchell/Nilsen collab was epic.
    “When I started in this business, if you interviewed an actress who played a lesbian or bisexual character, she’d spend the whole interview telling you about her husband and how being straight was like the main thing in her life, super main thing, more then breathing or eating, what she needed was just to be straight and for the world to know she was straight. Not anymore, suckas!”

    I think this is pretty important.
    And I find it a bit odd that people in the LGBT community are towing the same line that fundamentalist straight people are.
    When a woman says she is or even could be attracted to other women, why are people so quick to discredit her?
    Instead of telling her it’s just a phase, you’re telling her that she’s just doing it for attention. Both accusations are pretty fucked up.
    Not long ago, Michelle Rodriguez wanted everyone to know that she liked sausage despite what she was Actually eating.
    Other actors have allegedly threatened the career of interviewers who caught wind of their same sex partners. Not to mention all the beards in Hollywood.

    If Shay says she doesn’t know, then I believe that she doesn’t know. I don’t need her to list her female attraction credentials. She may have been attracted to particular women before and never acted on it. She may have acted on it and is deciding not to tell people. Which she isn’t obligated to.
    I’d rather her admit she doesn’t know than say she is straight while bragging about her conquest with women. At least she is admitting to the possibility of a full fledged relationship.
    When people read these statements from actors, they tend to forget that there is a good 80% percentage of the female population who have never, will never, and could never fathom any sexual contact with another woman. And would never claim that they are interested.
    Throughout the history of sexuality research, sexual attraction has never been synonymous with sexual identity. With plenty of people identifying as straight even though they have some degree of same sex attraction. And it’s still happening today.
    I’m glad to see the gap between identity and attraction narrowing.

  6. I get that the “no-label” thing can sometimes be overgeneralized in a frustrating way and that’s a problem, but seriously, people really need to entirely back the fuck off of the judgement when it comes to the way that individuals, celebrity or otherwise, express their experience of their own personal sexuality.

  7. Ok, well if I’m still single in 25 years (or whenever Shay Mitchell turns 50) then I’m for sure gonna call her up and ask her out.

    Or in the meantime if she needs some “help” figuring out if she’s gay or not I’m here for her 😉

  8. I don’t think it’s so bad that Shay says she’d date a chick someday in the same way that she might move to Iceland someday or something. This isn’t like an episode of Faking It. She just said she doesn’t know what she’ll be doing in 50 years. Neither do I tbh.

    I mean the whole ‘no labels’ thing does get on my nerves, but that’s only because I’ve been called a can of soup since this whole sexual fluidity movement started. Sometimes it gets to you when you hear your own community start saying the things you’ve heard from homophobic people all your life. It’s really close to the vein of ‘who cares about your sexuality’, ‘you can still date a man if you try’, ‘slurs are fun and for everyone.’ Even my own homophobic mother cottoned on after that Neighbour’s chick who came out as a ‘lesbian dating a dude’, and now I’M homophobic because I’m sticking to women.

    I suppose it all comes down to intent, but it’s hard for it not to get to you when a lot of these ideas promote really quick and visceral reactions after a lifetime of avoiding the people who encourage it. I guess I’m just on the other side of a new generation gap haha

    • This hits so so so close to home. So many of my gay friends have essentially discounted my coming out as lesbian by saying things like “Well everyone’s a little bit bi!” “You might decide you like men someday, don’t rule it out!” (These are actual quotes. Painful, right?) It’s hard to swallow the “sexuality is fluid” thing when it has only ever meant people discounting your own identity. Not to mention that it must get annoying for bi people to constantly hear “everyone is bi!” as if they don’t have to deal with a whole lot of shit that everyone CLEARLY does not have to deal with???

      Anyway this rant may have gotten off track but the point is THANM YOU FOR THIS COMMENT. <3

      • I’m bisexual and what Shay said doesn’t bother me one bit because it’s not my life. I can’t apply my experiences to shay and vice versa. She dated guys in the past and she’s open to dating women when she’s 50, deal with it. Crazier things happen to people. Btw, what if she’s already had sex with a woman but she doesn’t understand what she feels at the moment so she left things open, in order to not making any further mistakes of identifying with a label that doesn’t fit her sexuality. If you think your label is permanent? good. If you think it could change? good. If you don’t want any label? good. Live your life as a nice person. It’s all that matters. Oh and, it’s not Shay’s fault if you get hit on by guys and you’re a lesbian.

        • Yeah nah, like I said Shay’s just minding her business. I was just explaining why so many monosexuals have feelings about the ‘no labels’ label. Just feels icky when people try to tack it onto monosexuals (at least in my experience), because it’s super invalidating and sounds a lot like old school homophobia when used in reference to lesbians. And gay guys too, but I usually find it’s lesbians who should be sexually fluid because sexism?

          Anyhoo, oh but I will disagree about Shay being entirely blameless for male entitlement to lesbians. She did do the whole lesbians experimenting with guys trope on PLL (interestingly there is no gay guys experimenting with chicks trope), so yeah I have feelings about that too.

    • “I mean the whole ‘no labels’ thing does get on my nerves, but that’s only because I’ve been called a can of soup since this whole sexual fluidity movement started.”

      Wow, THIS. This comment hit home. You’re absolutely right, something about this argument can be used to be just so utterly dismissive.

  9. Wow, the comments are pretty disappointing. Kudos to Shay for beibg open to the idea of surprising herself and for not being homophobic, which she easily could have been. I too remember the days when interviews centered around the unimaginably challenging same sex scene for which straight actors and actresses needed to get plastered or hypnotized basically. Maybe this is a generational thing, but I’m grateful and happy to see panicky, uncomfortable homophobia slowly becoming a thing of the past.
    I’m also grateful for this opportunity to add Shay to my list of fantasy hook ups. Yay!

  10. I go back and forth with this whole “ugh no labels!” thing. I understand the frustration lesbians have with it, especially as a super visible ladygay, especially when you encounter assholes…but I’ve found it helps to think of it like veganism. Yeah, some vegans are assholes, but when someone I know tells me they’re vegan, I don’t immediately brace for assholishness unless I get that vibe already. The “labels are for soup cans” crowd is like any group of people: people are people. (I want to be clear that I’m not comparing sexuality to dietary choices, just the perception surrounding both.)

  11. I personally am not that enthusiastic about what Shay said. She just said that she doesn’t label herself because she doesn’t know what will happen in the future.

    So “I’m only attracted to men, but who knows, maybe I’ll turn someday, sexuality is fluid blah blah”.

    I wonder how Ingrid felt listening to this, considering that basically what she said about her own sexuality has been invalidated. Ingrid Nilsen stated in collab with Joey Graceffa and Tyler Oakley that she is 100% certain we are born this way, and in her own coming out video she said she will never date a man ever again.

    But now it turns out she shouldn’t identify as a lesbian because “labels are for cans” and she doesn’t know what future will bring, apparently it’s entirely possible she could meet the right man for whom she would “shift” for.

    • Jesus christ! Stop trying to control people. Ingrid can do what she wants with her vagina and Shay can do the same with hers. No one is erasing anyone. It’s not Shay’s fault if you get hit on by guys and you’re disgusted by it.

      • Sorry, but it’s you who wants to control people. You said in other rude comment in response to Nina that “sexuality is really fluid. It’s not just a thing for young celebrities or teenagers. It’s the truth”. And yet elsewhere stated that a lesbian could fall in love with a man.

        You try to dictate views that are basically erasing homosexuality, sounding really similar to homophobic statements that “lesbian can meet the right guy to turn her”, and force “universal fluidity” as one true take on sexuality.

        And that’s the kind of prejudice I really despise, because it comes from people who think of themselves as very open minded.

        As for Shay, I wouldn’t have problem with what she said if she pointed out she’s only talking about herself. But she didn’t. She tried to push the idea that “labels are stupid”, invalidating what Ingrid said about herself. Notice how after she said that she “hates labels”, Ingrid tried to argue a little by saying that some people are confident in their label.

  12. It feels to me as if “no labels” has come to mean basically heteroflexible. Not being required to have a label has been a privilege of heterosexuals for ages and I’m tired of it now being posited as some enlightened way of experiencing sexuality.

  13. Isn’t it interesting that even on Autostraddle, the most compassionate and enlightened queer community on the internet, when we talk about the way other people ID, we don’t talk about how their identity affects them; we talk about how it affects us, individually. “I don’t like when a person IDs as X because of how this this and this about that identity make me and other people feel about MY identity.” Even just in these comments, people who ID as nonbinary criticiz

    • Sorry I clicked “submit” on accident.

      But people who ID as nonbinary criticizing people for not choosing a binary sexuality.

      The whole phenomenon is fascinating.

      • Huh?
        Binary sexuality? What’s that supposed to be?
        Gender binary I understand. Also, that sexuality is often (mistakenly) thought of as binary as in straight and gay, totally ignoring everything between and beyond these two.
        But Shay does not identify as non-binary, which would be bi or pan or omni or something like that. She doesn’t choose at all, hence I don’t think one can say she chooses nonbinary.

  14. Wth is with all the negativity? Shay has done a lot for LGBTQ. Shay has been outspoken about supporting the community and queer people for six years. Shay reaches out and travels the world to give back to women. Are we scared she’ll experiment with girls and marry a guy in the future? that’s her vagina. She can do what she wants. Label or unlabeled, it’s not up to us. It’s more laughable if she came out as bisexual because she’s a celebrity and bisexual celebrities are often scorned. I rather have her say she’s not straight and make out with Ashley Benson. She’ll be more protected that way and that’s good because she doesn’t deserve to be attacked.

  15. Shay can pretend to like girls on screen but she can’t admit to actually liking girls off screen? wth is with all the negativity? Shay has done a lot for LGBTQ. Shay has been outspoken about supporting the community and queer people for six years. Shay reaches out and travels the world to give back to women. Are we scared she’ll experiment with girls and marry a guy in the future? that’s her vagina. She can do what she wants. Label or unlabeled, it’s not up to us. It’s more laughable if she came out as bisexual because she’s a celebrity and bisexual celebrities are often scorned. I rather have her say she’s not straight and make out with Ashley Benson. She’ll be more protected that way and that’s good because she doesn’t deserve to be attacked.

  16. Can we all please just agree on the following:

    — any individual human can pick any label or no label

    –it is also totally valid to change your label/ lack of label

    — within any label or no label there is a vast range of nuanced experiences

    — this vast range of nuanced experiences can probably never be summed up perfectly in one conversation or interview

    –when someone makes a statement about their sexuality they are speaking for themselves, and not anyone else

    !!!!

    • I’m disappointed. Heather wrote this and Shay is supportive of her but this time, I’m praying to Vanderjesus that Shay wouldn’t read any of it. Compared to young gay icons like Kristen Stewart, Shay has done way more for the LGBTQ audience.

    • Yeah, this. And how do we know that Shay isn’t attracted to women now or that she hasn’t been intimate with them in the past? People are assuming that her comments about maybe having a girlfriend someday were completely hypothetical, but we don’t know anything about her.

      • x2. what’s so wrong if she’s open? we are often not allowed to admit it but sexuality do change for some people. We see divorced straight women falling in love with lesbians, we see some butch lesbian girls in high school get married with a guy, we see gay men falling in love with lesbians, rare but it happens too. People can love bacon for years and people can be a vegetarian the next. That happens too, man. it’s life. the grey area in the kinsey scale is larger than all us combined.

          • “it’s entirely possible a lesbian could meet the right guy to turn her, sexuality is fluid.” because labels changes in time for some people, NOT FOR YOU but for some people, yes! the attraction could change in time. I’ve seen it happen and I’m sorry if you can’t accept that. I’ve seen gay men falling in love with lesbians, I’ve seen a gay man marrying a straight woman and ends up having a divorce, I’ve seen the straightest woman with three kids having an affair with a lesbian, I’ve seen butch lesbians/bisexual having children with a straight guy, I’ve seen bisexual women in a heterosexual relationship running away with another bisexual woman, etc. The possibilities are endless because we are talking about HUMAN FEELINGS and it’s very complex and broad. It is never going to be just black and white.

  17. I’m out. Delete all of my comments if you want. This is not the Autostraddle that I know. A lot of you have become self-centered and narcissistic, instead of being compassionate and considerate, you just think of your own feelings. All I can read is “I” and “Me”, SHAY WAS TALKING ABOUT SHAY. SHAY WAS TALKING ABOUT HER FUTURE. SHAY WASN’T REPRESENTING OR SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF THE LGBTQ.

  18. I dunno…I mean, I’m straight myself, so maybe my opinion doesn’t mean much, but this recent spate of young celebrities claiming to be “fluid” even though they’ve only had relationships with/attractions to opposite sex partners seems kind of appropriative to me. It makes me think of the phrase “everyone wants to be black, but no one actually wants to BE black”. Like, you want to be part of an “alternative” (for lack of a better term) community, but you don’t want to/have to deal with what it means to be a true part of that community.

    • And something about saying that you’re “open” to a same sex relationship even though you’re, for all intents and purposes, straight, just doesn’t sit right with me. It sounds dismissive of a very crucial component of dating, that is – ATTRACTION.

      • “And something about saying that you’re “open” to a same sex relationship even though you’re, for all intents and purposes, straight, just doesn’t sit right with me. It sounds dismissive of a very crucial component of dating, that is – ATTRACTION.”

        Nina, you can be open to dating but not meeting anyone you’re attracted to (and thus, remain single). Along those lines, you can be open to dating such and such groups of people but not meeting anyone you’re actually attracted to.

    • Alternative? Jesus! Your words are downright cruel! What’s better then? to be close minded and homophobic? sexuality is really fluid. It’s not just a thing for young celebrities or teenagers. It’s the truth. don’t compare ethnicity to sexual labels because people can’t choose whom they are born to but people can choose their sexual identity. Shay doesn’t need to prove herself to any of you because she has done loads for the community when she decided to play Emily in PLL. what have you done for us? other than complain about how other people should live their lives and label themselves? lastly, STOP PUTTING A STIGMA ON HER BY SAYING SHE’S STRAIGHT. We don’t know who she’s masturbating to and we don’t know the people whom she’s had sex with.

      HEATHER?????????? WHERE ARE YOU????? SAY SOMETHING! You’ve known Shay for years. She may not be your close friend but you know her well enough to say that she’s not a user.

      RIESE???? WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR WEBSITE???? WHERE’S THE COMPASSION???? THE LOVE???? I WANT THE OLD AUTOSTRADDLE BACK!

      • You talk about showing others “compassion” and “love” but bite my head off with your unnecessary capslock tirade? “Alternative” wasn’t the term I was looking for. I meant more like “marginalized” communities. I apologize if my terminology was misunderstood.

        And I’m sorry, but when did sexual orientation become something one chooses? And when did being heterosexual become a stigma? Why are you equating being heterosexual with being homophobic? You do realize that it’s possible to be straight AND be a supportive ally to the queer community, don’t you?

        • Furthermore, I’m not stigmatizing Shay by criticizing her discussion about her sexuality. I don’t watch PLL myself, but I applaud her for portraying a lesbian character who is, as far as I know, very well developed and interesting and likeable. I never said that she hasn’t done a lot for portrayals of lesbian characters on television.

          What I’m saying is that, and this is just my opinion (though it appears to be the opinion of many others, too), sexuality isn’t just about being “open-minded”. As a far left-leaning feminist, I consider myself a rather open-minded person, and I have always been supportive of marginalized communities, be they racial or sexual. But for all of my open-mindedness, I’m hard-wired to be attracted to men, and that’s just the way I am. At least at this point in my life. Could I fall for a woman somewhere down the road? Well sure, maybe, anything’s possible, but I’m not going to go and try – at this point in my life – to claim membership to a community (that community being the queer community) when I have, for the past 3 decades, only been attracted to men. If I find myself with a woman someday, I’ll consider myself queer then. In the meantime, I’ll be a supportive and ardent ally to the LGBTQIA community. To speak about being queer as if it’s simply about being “open-minded” is totally naive and dismissive of those who are hard-wired to be attracted to people of the same sex, and struggle with that. Who you’re attracted to is part of your programming.

          • “at this point in my life – to claim membership to a community” Point out the part in her interview where Shay claimed to be part of the LGBTQ community? Point it out. Jesus! Shay was only talking about herself, not others. Shay was only talking about the possibilities for herself, not the possibility for others. If you can relate to her story? good. If you can’t? that’s good too. What is up with the control thing? Shay should submit to our demands or else she’s invalid? why would any of us feel that way towards another human? who gave us the right to gain access into their personal identities and control it? I cannot believe I’m having this conversation in the same website that helped me come to terms with my own sexuality years ago.

          • You never answered any of my questions, now you just want to walk out from this conversation as you please? is that how you win? point out the part where Shay was claiming that she’s part of the LGBTQ? so this is how it works in your opinion, if someone hasn’t had a long term gay relationship, that means she’s not valid as a homosexual or a member of the LGBTQ community? if a person just do sexual things with the same sex in the bedroom but doesn’t feel like doing it but still is, doing it, they are 100% straight. Just straight. Straight as a ruler and straight as it can be. So they’re not an official homo yet? not even a tendency of being bisexual? yeah the article is right. We are being TOO TECHNICAL ABOUT THIS. “What I’m saying is that, and this is just my opinion (though it appears to be the opinion of many others, too),” The majority is not always correct. If it was? the whole world would legalize same sex marriage and women like Shay won’t be judged for not choosing any labels for their sexuality.

          • “You can’t choose to be attracted to men, or to women, or to both men and women.” And Shay believes that so she’s open about the idea. People don’t always realize it instantly. It takes loads of time for a lot of us. People have converted to straight to lesbians, bisexual to lesbians, lesbians to bisexuals, bisexual to straight, straight to pansexual, etc. Deny it man, deny it but we’ve seen it happen. The only permanent thing in this world is change and you can hate me for saying that but for some people, it’s true. If what you feel is 100% permanent? good! You do you! Let others do the same. Your romantic experiences and how you experienced your realization about your sexuality is personal. That’s you. That’s not Shay. Shay never claimed any membership to LGBTQ or AS. Shay was opening up about herself because she could already feel that there is something inside of her that’s different. Instead of showing a potential bisexual, lesbian, pansexual, etc, some support, people here CHOSE TO SCRUTINIZE.

          • “I, a woman who’s only been with men, never been sexually attracted to women” That is it! You answered your own question. What if she already had an experience with a woman in the past and that opened her mind about the possibilities? Shay didn’t say anything about romantic or sexual attraction to anybody. Who knows if she’s a closeted pansexual. She was only talking about relationships, not attraction. She left that out and we should all let her take her time to understand what she feels.

        • “when did sexual orientation become something one chooses?” You choose your actions. You choose if you’ll eat a vagina or not. That’s a choice. And if you want to label that action, that’s a choice too. “when did being heterosexual become a stigma?” In here? in a website like this, it apparently is. And Shay already said she’s not so why are you FORCING THAT LABEL on her face? who gave you the right to control her life? “You do realize that it’s possible to be straight AND be a supportive ally to the queer community, don’t you?” You do realize that it’s possible Shay is being as honest as she can be when she said she’s not straight. You just want to shove the word gay on her forehead so you can understand her individuality. People can have preferences and that’s okay. Being homosexual is not uniformed or the ways of homosexuality is not uniformed so yeah, she can make up her own equation and terms and eat vagina when or if she desires to. And guess what babe? she can still CHOOSE NOT TO LABEL WHAT SHE’S DOING because it’s her life and body parts. You’re not involved in what she’s doing.

          • What you choose to do in the bedroom is not the same as your sexual orientation, I hate to break it to you. Your sexual orientation is who you are attracted to, what’s in you. You can’t choose to be attracted to men, or to women, or to both men and women. I didn’t choose to be attracted to men. I just am, and I can’t help that. What you do in the bedroom is another thing entirely. I could hypothetically, go down on a girl, but that wouldn’t make me any less heterosexual, because I’m not sexually attracted to women.

            As for the rest of your rant, you lost me after you claimed that heterosexuality is stigmatized here at Autostraddle. I’ve been a visitor and commenter at this website since its inception, and open about being heterosexual, and my sexual orientation has never ever been demonized by any other members here. I’ve even seen numerous straight men come here as friendly allies as well, eager to contribute to pop culture conversations, and they too have been welcomed with open arms. How dare you claim that the Autostraddle community demonizes anyone based on his or her sexual orientation? And you’re rhapsodizing about “love” and “support” and “open-mindedness”?

          • Dear Lord, you’re quite the relentless one, aren’t you? I didn’t realize we were competing for anything, here.

            Your arguments are all over the place.

            Anyway this label thing. You’re saying that we’re free to label ourselves or be label-free if we so choose, regardless of who we’ve dated/slept with. So let’s say that I, a woman who’s only been with men, never been sexually attracted to women but acknowledge that sexuality is fluid for many people, decide that I’m going to identify as “queer” from now on, because fuck labels. That wouldn’t bother you? That wouldn’t feel appropriative at all? What claim do I have to that word? That’s a word with a very loaded, very dark history for the queer community. It’s a word that’s been used to discriminate against members of your community, and here, me with my hetero privilege, decide that I’m going to call myself queer just because I’m free to call myself whatever I want. I haven’t lived a queer experience. I don’t have the right to call myself queer.

          • I’m going to try to be as straightforward as I can.

            Shay isn’t down with labels. We can agree on that much, I think. It’s fine not to wish to label your sexuality regardless of your preferences. But just because she doesn’t think she’s straight doesn’t mean she’s fluid. I would assume that if her sexuality was as “fluid” as she claims it is, that she would have mentioned any experiences she has had with women. But she’s choosing to say that she’s fluid because MAYBE, SOMEDAY, she’ll be with a woman. You said that sexuality can change, and I agree with that, but what I’m also saying is that, if she wants to call herself fluid, she should wait until she has an experience that actually PROVES that she is fluid. She doesn’t have to call herself straight, but I don’t think she has the right to say that she’s fluid.

      • The paradox is that the word “fluid” is just as much a label as straight/gay/queer/etc. I didn’t say that she declared herself a member of the LGBTQIA community, but she seems to be trying to claim herself to be a member of the fluid community, despite not having had any experiences which would validate that she is actually fluid. The problem with her statement is that she’s SAYING that she’s not labeling herself, BUT then she slaps a word (a label) on her sexuality that means that it doesn’t go one way, when her actions up until now would imply otherwise. The only way to not label is to in fact not label. She could have said something like, “Well, I’ve only dated men, but I’m open to exploring my sexuality under the right circumstances someday, so I’m not going to call myself straight”. That wouldn’t be claiming to be fluid. UNDERSTANDING that your own sexuality could be fluid in the future even though you’ve only had straight relationships up until now is not the same as SAYING that you are fluid currently.

        • “she should wait until she has an experience that actually PROVES that she is fluid.” And you would know if she has or haven’t had an experience with the same sex? that’s the thing, Shay didn’t go further, Shay didn’t give any more answers, and that’s fine because she could be in the middle of figuring things out. “despite not having had any experiences which would validate that she is actually fluid’You are ASSUMING that she’s a pussy virgin but what if she’s not? she didn’t SPECIFICALLY said anything about being attracted to girls or even boys or transgenders, she simply said “I’m not straight.” And that could mean a lot regarding the Kinsey scale. Her interview was short. It wasn’t as detailed but that is because SHE NEEDS MORE TIME and we should all give her that because man! it is not easy. And for once, a female celebrity said ” I could end up with a woman when I’m 50″ that’s refreshing because most of the time, young female celebrities would make out with other women and marry a guy in the end. Shay did the opposite and took the other direction. Shay is basically saying that she had considered the possibility of settling and marrying a woman when she’s older. How can that not be a good thing? I think Shay is pansexual but that’s just me.

  19. Props to Shay Mitchell, we should all have the freedom to ID how we choose.

    I just have a small pet peeve when people say things like “I can love someone if they’re black, white, polka-dotted, striped, purple, etc.” No one is polka-dotted, that’s not an actual real category! Eh, that’s just me though.

  20. Also, like…high school me had a problem with their complicated BFF with benefits who was like, “I’m bi…just kidding I like making out with you but I don’t wanna label it!” And that came from a place of hurt and frustration and neither of us being mature enough to be honest about our feelings.

    Now at 26, my platonic BFF identifies as “mostly straight” – which kind of breaks down to bisexual/heteroromantic for her, also she’s had a relationship with a genderqueer person. But I could care less about what she calls herself because it doesn’t affect me in any way. My labels have also changed (I am now queer/genderqueer), but even if I was a lesbian, if someone else tried to tell me that I could be flexible because she could be flexible, that’s their problem. The two of us are just speaking for ourselves.

    I think this hesitation about being comfortable with “no labels” is because a lot of us have been hurt by people who have unclear about their feelings or invalidating as romantic partners, and that sucks, but Shay Mitchell is not some previously straight girl you’re hooking up with who might be like, “just kidding, I don’t actually like you/ girls all that much!” We have no idea what her relationships look like, so it’s weird to project that onto her.

  21. Just because it is bothering me.
    Can we clarify what Shay actually said.
    It’s really weird hearing people argue about things she never said.

    In her recollection, when asked, she said, repeatedly, that she doesn’t know.
    She said she didn’t know who she was going to fall in love with.
    She said, “You love who you love”
    She said she dated guys in the past

    She never said she was straight.
    She never said she was only attracted to men.
    She never mentioned her attraction
    She never said she was fluid
    She never said sexuality is fluid…
    Didn’t hear her even use the word fluid.
    She never claimed she was a part of the LGBTQ community
    She never said she wanted to be a part of an alternative community
    She never said labels are for soup cans
    She never said 90% of the things people are attributing to her.

    Note: Ingrid is the one who started the conversation about labels.
    Ingrid said don’t worry about labels.
    Shay said she hated label. That’s the only time the word ‘label’ came out of her mouth.
    Shay agreed with Ingrid on every point Ingrid made about labels.

    Shay said Ingrid’s coming out was inspiring. She said she was touched by it. She said she was proud of Ingrid for coming out.
    When she said she hoped people wouldn’t have to come out someday, Ingrid agreed.

    She never invalidated Ingrid’s experience. Just the opposite. She wanted to meet Ingrid because of her coming out video.

    It’s frustrating seeing Shay, who seems like a sweet girl, take on all this crap for things she didn’t even say.
    At least have the courtesy to address her for what she actually said and not put your/other people’s baggage on her. She’s not this scapegoat for all the people who hurt you.
    She’s not your homophobic parent. She’s not that girl who broke your heart. She’s not the crowd of whomever who are invalidating your sexuality.
    She is not to blame or even an accessory to any of that.

    And you don’t have to wait till she’s 50. Don’t make it sound like she put that number out there to imply that it’s virtually impossible for her to be with a woman.
    She said, “I don’t know what it’s going to be in three years.” She said, “ask me in ten years”.
    She said, “ask me on a day to day basis”

    And a grammar check. The quotes. Why are people putting general phrases in quotation marks? When you use quotes, you are stating that a particular person you are discussing said those exact words. You can’t just make up a phrase someone may have said some time or another and put it in quotations. Indirect quotes don’t get quotation marks. If you don’t use the exact phrase and don’t note who the exact phrase came from, don’t use quotation marks.

    • Hi! I’m guilty of some of the things in this comment. This is an important comment to read. I also think there are some important things at play in this comments section beyond grossly misreading Shay’s quotes, and I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss them.

      I think this article struck such an emotional chord with people that by the time a lot of us got down to the comments section this was not about Shay Mitchell but rather about our own feelings about labels and sexual fluidity. Someone above called that “narcissistic”. I’m also sorry if this discussion is being translated into some sort of disdain or hatred for an actress. I can only speak for myself and say that I was merely using this current event as an opportunity to join the comments sections and discuss something that affects my life as a queer women (labels, sexual fluidity, and how identities are perceived from the outside). My feelings about Shay have not changed over the course of this discussion. I still think she’s a nice person doing a lot of good stuff for the LGBT community, but I would never presume to know 99.999% of her daily thoughts and feelings. I hope none of us would.

      “She’s not your homophobic parent. She’s not that girl who broke your heart. She’s not the crowd of whomever who are invalidating your sexuality.
      She is not to blame or even an accessory to any of that.”

      I think that’s just it. By the time some of us reached the comments section, we weren’t talking about a celebrity we don’t know. We were talking about people we really know in our real lives, people who have said real hurtful things or caused real harm. I’m sorry this is all getting construed as commenters blaming Shay, and I’m sure some of them are blaming her! But I think we should take a second before dismissing the emotions of these commenters. They’ve suffered real pain and confusion. I think this comments section is evidence that this discussion needs to be happening, needs to continue and evolve, perhaps in productive spaces dedicated to the topic instead of a column of celebrity news? I’m not sure where the right space is. That’s why I jumped in here, it was an opportunity to express some feelings I was carrying in my heart. Didn’t mean to spill my emotions all over the internet’s proverbial floor. I’m sure there’s a mop here somewhere…

    • Fuck, I’m so irritated I can’t type properly.

      …DOES NOT MEAN that the rest of us are obligated to choose an absolutely rigid category for ourselves. Sorry, but no. Homophobes do not get to control any aspect of how I identify.

      If you have a problem with someone else’s identity, that is your problem, not theirs. Take up your fight with the overgeneralizing homophobic assholes, not the people who have every right to express their own truth about THEIR sexuality.

      • Thank you!!!! It’s like people in here are criticizing Shay for not picking a label. Let’s all pick our battles and this thing with Shay is unnecessary. Man, I’m just happy she’s not homophobic. If she was caught making out with a random woman, people would doubt her sincerity, saying she’s just another celebrity who’s currently experimenting and she would eventually marry a guy. That’s not the case with her, she’s saying that “I’m dating a guy now but when I’m older, I could end up with a woman and marry a woman.” She’s doing it in reverse, and what is so wrong with that mentality? she’s not making fun of gay people in her statement. She’s not even talking about other gay people or bisexual people, she’s simply talking about her own relationship. She’s saying that other women(YOU) have a chance with her. Instead of celebrating this good news, many of us jumped into conclusion. Btw, Shay is not the character Emily from Pll. Don’t confuse the two.

  22. The rumour I heard wasn’t that Shay was tired of kissing women, she was tired of Emily having so many insignificant flings, and wished that unless they weren’t gonna give her anything serious or longterm, they might just as well keep her single. But that’s also just a rumour that may have no merit at all.

    And in PLL-related news. Sabrina, the hippie that Emily did hit off with until Aria ruined it, will return in season 7 episode 3 and have a scene with Emily. So maybe they can start where they left off.

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