Mara Wilson Aims To Use Her Coming Out Story To Combat Bisexual Erasure

"I don’t see myself as anybody’s savior, but I’d rather it were me…getting harassed for being who I am than a young LGBTQ kid."

Mara Wilson may be best known for playing Matilda Wormhood in 'Matilda,' but it's her current role as an LGBTQ activist that has made recent headlines.

 Over a year ago, in the wake of the deadly shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Wilson decided to use her platform to publicly come out as bisexual.

Now, she's speaking out about what that moment meant to her — and her hundreds of thousands of followers — and how it's part of a larger personal commitment to combat bisexual erasure and vilification. "I think that if you're in a place of security and privilege — which I can admit that I am — it's important for you to [come out]," Wilson told Lambda Legal's Ariel Goldberg in their September 20 interview. "I don't see myself as anybody's savior, but I'd rather it were me — who can afford therapy and afford this platform — getting harassed for being who I am than a young LGBTQ kid. I think it's important."

And it was. After Wilson came out, she received many tweets of support, not only welcoming her to the bisexual "club" but thanking her for her bravery.

While the overall response was positive, Wilson was criticized for her timing, something she's quick to acknowledge now. "I often wish that I hadn't done it then because I got accused of taking advantage of a tragedy for personal attention," she explained. "Now clearly I like attention, but I am not so callous as to make a tragedy about myself, my life, and my story. That isn't what I was going for."

Because Wilson was vilified when she was her most vulnerable, she's now using her platform as a public feature to draw attention to the problem so it doesn't happen to other femme-identifying people.

"A lot of people like to tell women — and especially queer women — that they are doing things for attention. And it is strange to me that the worst thing a woman can do is do something for attention," she explained. "Throughout history, women and women-identified people have had to struggle to get any kind of power or control over their lives. And control is seen as a bad thing. It's seen as being manipulative."

"When you think of bisexuals, you think of villainy. You think of people using their sexuality to get what they want, using other people and hurting other people," she adds. "Or just having a lot of sex, and […] if you are 'promiscuous,' that is seen as being inherently a bad thing." 

That is, when you think of them at all. Many in modern society still don't accept the existence of bisexuality, or even if they do, tend to dismiss it. And when it comes to how sexuality is portrayed in popular culture — the first encounter many young, bisexual people have with romantic relationships — bisexuality is often erased. 

Take, for example, Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was in romantic relationships with both men and women, but many consider her only a pioneering lesbian television character, rather than a bisexual one. She, like so many other characters, is made to check a more acceptable box on the sexuality spectrum, because that's what everyone else is comfortable with.

That's why it's so important for Mara Wilson and other public figures, like Cara Delevigne and Margaret Cho, to draw attention to their existence as proud, bisexual women. Because they're criticized for it, and because so many other young women can't. Their representation of the bisexual community empowers its countless other members to be just as fierce and fearless as they are. 

(H/T: Refinery29)

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