When Stranger Things was released in the summer of 2016, much of the show's cast became overnight sensations, including the mysterious Eleven and her crew. But Barb, Nancy's '80s-coiffed, high-waist jeans wearing best friend, became a cult favorite. Shannon Purser, the actor who plays Barb, is a newcomer to the scene, but she is already using her platform to speak about issues very important to her and to many other young people. In a recent candid Twitter post, Purser came out as bisexual, and it's wonderful to see a young actor be so transparent and honest so early in her career.
According to People, Purser's tweet comes after she received backlash over a now-deleted tweet about two of Riverdale's female characters, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, sharing an on-screen kiss. (On the show, Purser plays Ethel Muggs.) Purser spoke about the animosity that can arise from the culture of "shipping," and she explained herself quickly after on Twitter and wrote, "Ships are great, being horrible to people who don't ship your ship is not."
Later, Purser took it upon herself to open up to her fans about her connection to the LGBT community and explain her unfamiliarity with the term "queerbaiting," which some fans had brought up. She wrote,
A week before her heartfelt admission, Purser shared on Twitter that she had been struggling with her sexuality and her fans replied to her with messages of encouragement and support. Stars like Purser have a bigger influence than anyone can imagine, and it seems that she is devoted to being as honest as possible with her fans. Life isn't easy, especially with many of the issues young people deal with today, and Purser seems to recognize that.
Getting comfortable with your sexuality is a process. It's going to be ok. I wish I'd known that sooner.— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 11, 2017
Another thing I wish I'd known about sexuality is to take it slow. It can define you as much as you want it to.— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 11, 2017
Either way, I know what it's like to have anxiety about it. Especially trying to come to terms with it and my faith. It can be really scary.— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 11, 2017
I love that Purser writes directly to her audience and is self-aware, honest, kind, and willing to learn, all of which are refreshing traits to see from a young woman new to fame. Most young stars deal with many of their issues behind closed doors, but it seems that Purser finds her relief in being transparent. She's clearly set the tone for the honesty she wants to have, as she previously opened up about her struggles with self-harm and depression.
While she's just beginning her career, Purser looks keen on always being open and real with her followers. She is only 19 years old and going through many of the same things as her fans, and it's wonderful to see an actor be so connected and aware. Teenage years and adolescence can be really hard, but as Purser once wrote to her fans, "it's gonna be ok. You're going to be ok. No, you're going to be great." It's a message everyone needs to hear.