30-year-old actress Kristen Stewart covers InStyle‘s November 2020 issue, to promote her new film, The Happiest Season. The film is a romantic comedy about a woman named Harper (Mackenzie Davis) who brings her girlfriend, Abby (Stewart), home for Christmas, though she hasn’t told her parents that she’s gay.
Stewart says she personally related to the story. “It deals with very poignant things that, for me, are extremely affecting and triggering — even though now the word ‘triggering’ triggers me more than anything in the whole world,” she says.
“But the movie is so funny and cute, and I loved the couple. They’re both people I really felt protective of in different ways, because I’ve been on both sides of that dynamic where someone is having a hard time acknowledging who they are and the other person is more self-accepting. I [personally] came into the more complex aspects of myself a little bit later. I never felt an immense shame, but I also don’t feel far away from that story, so I must have it in a latent sense.”
“I don’t want to aggrandize my own pain, because I know that others’ pain has been so great,” she adds. “Living in this world, being a queer person, there are things that hurt constantly.”
Stewart opened up about her own experience when she was pressured to put a label on her sexuality.
“The first time I ever dated a girl, I was immediately being asked if I was a lesbian,” she shares. “And it’s like, ‘God, I’m 21 years old.’ I felt like maybe there were things that have hurt people I’ve been with. Not because I felt ashamed of being openly gay but because I didn’t like giving myself to the public, in a way. It felt like such thievery. This was a period of time when I was sort of cagey.”
“Even in my previous relationships, which were straight, we did everything we could to not be photographed doing things — things that would become not ours,” she says. “So I think the added pressure of representing a group of people, of representing queerness, wasn’t something I understood then. Only now can I see it. Retrospectively, I can tell you I have experience with this story. But back then I would have been like, ‘No, I’m fine. My parents are fine with it. Everything’s fine.’ That’s bullsh**. It’s been hard. It’s been weird. It’s that way for everyone.”
After coming out, Stewart acknowledges she felt pressure to be a spokesperson for the queer community.
“I did more when I was younger, when I was being hounded about labeling myself,” she recalls. “I had no reticence about displaying who I was. I was going out every day knowing I’d be photographed while I was being affectionate with my girlfriend, but I didn’t want to talk about it. I did feel an enormous pressure, but it wasn’t put on me by the [LGBTQ+] community. People were seeing those pictures and reading these articles and going, ‘Oh, well, I need to be shown.’ I was a kid, and I felt personally affronted.”
And now how does Stewart feel about being openly gay? “Now I relish it,” she says. “I love the idea that anything I do with ease rubs off on somebody who is struggling. That sh**’s dope! When I see a little kid clearly feeling themselves in a way that they wouldn’t have when I grew up, it makes me skip.”