"Hunger Games" actress Amandla Stenberg has been open about her sexuality in the past, but in an interview released on Monday, she stated for the first time that she's gay.
In a discussion with Wonderland magazine, Stenberg, 19, said that she's known since childhood that she was attracted to women, but didn't understand at the time what that meant.
She felt "this profound sense of relief" once she was able to make sense of her feelings, she told the magazine.
"All of the things that felt so internally contrary to my truest self were rectified as I unravelled a long web of denial and self-deprivation," she explained. "I was flooded with a sense of calm and peace because everything that I struggled with or felt discomfort around finally made sense to me, and once those floodgates opened and years of pent up pain and shame were released, I found the freedom to live my best life waiting for me just underneath."
Stenberg first addressed her sexuality in 2016, when she took over Teen Vogue's Snapchat channel and told followers that she identified as bisexual. Several months later, she clarified to Rookie magazine that it would be more accurate to describe herself as "pansexual."
“I identify publicly as bisexual. I would also use the word pansexual to describe my sexuality. The thing is I use the word bisexual just because I feel like for people who don’t necessarily know that vocabulary," she said. "It’s easier to say I’m bi."
Now, out as a gay woman, the "Everything, Everything" star said that she feels "grateful" for her sexuality.
"The continual process of unlearning heteronormativity and internalized homophobia can be difficult, but one of the biggest blessings lies in the magic that comes from having to understand love outside the confines of learned heterosexual roles. It is the power to reveal the ethereal love that exists within us underneath socialization," she said. "Once I was able to rid myself of those parameters, I found myself in a deep well of unbounded and untouchable love free from the dominion of patriarchy. My sexuality is not a byproduct of my past experiences with men, who I have loved, but rather a part of myself I was born with and love deeply."
She also wants to see more representations of women like her on the big and small screens. If she had more examples of women of color who identified as part of the LGBTQ community, she noted that she might have "come to conclusions around my sexuality much earlier."
"I would’ve had more of a conception of what was possible and OK," she said. "Having more representations of black gay women now and seeing myself reflected in them has been a huge aid in seeing myself as whole, complete, and normal."