The Soapbox: Why We Shouldn’t Assume Kristen Stewart Is A Lesbian
I first fell in love with Kristen Stewart 10 years ago. I was 12.”Catch that Kid,” a classic of our times, has a criminal 12 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Anyone who would review this film poorly is a joyless weirdo.
Stewart played Maddy, an adventurous tomboy whose skillset included climbing very tall things and emotionally manipulating boys. Her dad needed an expensive surgery, so she enlisted her two best guy friends to help her casually rob a bank. They aren’t feeling it at first, but then she gives each of them one half of a heart necklace with a promise that she loves him and doesn’t give a shit about the other guy. Bingo. Kristen Stewart’s Maddy is strategic, powerful, and a ruthless heartbreaker. 12-year-old me thought, What a dreamboat.
As far as mainstream kids’ movies go, “Catch that Kid” is a total queerfest. Maddy herself is an unfeminine little boss who is -20 percent interested in the romantic affection of preteen boys, while her mother is played by Jennifer Beals, aka “The L Word’”‘s power dyke, Bette. So, ever since Kristen Stewart was in this super great, super queer flop of a film, I’ve associated her with my own lesbian awakening – and I therefore feel weirdly protective whenever her real-life potential queerness comes into cultural question, and she’s run through the celebrity gossip meat grinder.
Which is happening now. Again.
Since early March, rumors have been a-churning regarding Kristen Stewart and her short-haired, beanie-wearing friend Alicia Cargile. After (completely legitimate) news source Popdust reported that the women were spotted kissing (on the lips) during a Palm Springs weekend (which “was totally hot!”), the celeblogs have been booming: has Kristen Stewart switched teams? Is she tossing RPatz into the dumpster where he belongs and finally pursuing a lesbian romance?
The answer: we have absolutely no idea, and we won’t until whenever and if ever Stewart decides to pull an Ellen Page and let us know about her interest in dating ladies for herself. Even then, she may not be coming out as a lesbian at all, because queerness is an extraordinarily vibrant, beautiful mess of diverse experiences which cannot always be relegated into the easily-ingestible binaries of straight and gay — both in terms of our community at large, and inside each of us as individual humans.
So stop insinuating Kristen Stewart is a lesbian.
While it’s easy to point out what the gossip rags are doing wrong, I’ve seen plenty of prominent Tumblrs and Twitter accounts leap to the conclusion that Stewart is “becoming” a lesbian. The most disappointing of these are places specifically for queer women. AfterEllen, a website which “works the lesbian/bi culture beat,” published an April 30th article titled “The Internet Has Deemed Kristen Stewart A Lesbian,” which gives a good rundown on the rumors unfolding about the potential “lesbian romance,” then throws the word “bisexual” in as a potentiality with the article’s last paragraph.
As a queer woman with long-harbored feelings for Kristen Stewart, I’m invested in her possible queerness as much as the next queer woman with superb taste. (I know a lot of people don’t like her; she doesn’t smile enough or something, whatever.) From “Catch That Kid” all the way up through “The Runaways,” we’ve seen her take on queer-ish roles, but the kicker is that she rocks plenty of real-life queer signifiers: the flannels. The beanies. The crush on Charlize Theron. Modeling Wildfang’s tomboy shirt. (I mean, come on.) We can guess. We can dream.
While RPatz could have been the greatest beard hoax of the modern age, let’s stop assuming that anyone who dates women having previously dated men is “switching teams” or “becoming” anything at all. Perpetuating the idea that women dating each other automatically = lesbianism contributes to bisexual, polysexual and broader queer erasure. We still don’t know if Kristen Stewart is kicking it with the queers, or simply one of many straight girls who is affectionate with her friends and would rather wear Converse than high heels.
But if she ever clues us into the former, someone please call me immediately.
[Image via WENN]