In a touching essay penned for Teen Vogue, former Disney star Alyson Stoner came out, and her words will make you so emotional. Many of us who lived and breathed pop culture circa the early 2000s mostly remember Stoner as the preteen girl who stole the show in most of Missy Elliott's videos. But the 24-year-old actor and dancer recently opened up about her personal life in a very powerful way. In her honest and moving piece that was originally published by Teen Vogue on Friday, the actor discusses the first time she fell in love with a woman and the years she spent struggling to come to terms with her sexuality.
Stoner begins her essay by recounting that her first encounter with the woman in question was at a dance workshop. She wrote,
"There she was, wearing loose jeans and a backward snapback. She flipped and rolled her body around with adventure and total abandon. As a Type A perfectionist, I was mesmerized and intimidated."
"After I dizzied myself from doing knee spins, she walked toward me to correct my form. My heart raced wildly and my body grew hot. Was I nervous to fail in front of an expert? Was I breathing heavily from being out of shape? Her smile was the most electrifying thing I’d ever seen.
"I left the workshop and texted my mother and best friend, saying, 'I met a woman today, I’m not sure who she is or what I’m feeling, but I think she’s going to be in my life for a very long time.'"
From there, Stoner explains how her relationship with the instructor, who remains unnamed throughout the entire essay, evolved. The Step Up star mentions that she recognized early on that the bond they had "didn't feel quite sisterly or platonic." The two grew closer to each other through texting and talking on the phone, but their relationship later became physical after they began spending time with one another.
She wrote, "She and I continued to hang out and began sending good morning texts. Then we made dinner and watched Orange Is the New Black. Then we vented and supported each other. Then cuddled. Then kissed and kissed some more. OK, we were in a relationship. I fell in love with a woman."
Still, despite having an attraction to her, Stoner revealed that she spent years attempting to fight the feelings that she had for her instructor due to her faith.
"I pursued physical relationships with men to convince myself that my love for her was just a spiritual battle attacking my character and discernment," she explained. Stoner also mentions that, at one point, some of her friends in the industry tried to discourage her from coming out, warning her that her decision to do so could end up having a negative effect on her career. She wrote,
"Some people in the industry warned me that I'd ruin my career, miss out on possible jobs, and potentially put my life in danger if I ever came out. My dream and all I'd worked tirelessly for since the age of 6 was suddenly at risk by my being... true to myself."
As she struggled with her identity, the woman she fell for acted as a constant source of strength and encouragement, eventually helping her come to terms with her identity. She doesn't put a label on her identity, but she does make clear that gender isn't what attracts her.
I, Alyson, am attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways. I can love people of every gender identity and expression. It is the soul that captivates me. It is the love we can build and the goodness we can contribute to the world by supporting each other's best journeys.
Stoner's coming out essay appears to go hand in hand with the release or her newest single, "When It's Right." The song is, as Stoner describes it in her essay, "the first painting of a vivid new world I now call home."
"When It's Right" is currently available to stream on Spotify.