Alyson Stoner is opening up about undergoing a form of conversion therapy as she struggled with confusion over her sexual identity.
In 2018, the 27-year-old Step Up star wrote an essay for Teen Vogue, in which she talked about falling in love with a woman. She noted that her faith at the time played a large role in every aspect of her life and that she “prayed in turmoil nightly,” as she begged to be healed from these desires. In a recent Facebook Live interview with Insider, Stoner said she actually went to “an outpatient variation” of conversion therapy before coming out as pansexual.
“I felt stuck. I felt wretched,” she recalled of her experience. “I felt like everything was wrong with me, even though I, in my heart of hearts, only desired to be a devoted follower of God. So to hear from people you trust, from people you respect, from people you might even aspire to become, that you at your core are ‘rotten,’ ‘abominable,’ that the devil has a target on your back because of your position in Hollywood… it just sends you into a spiral, at least for me, because I just wanted to do the right thing.”
Stoner said she’s still affected by the experience to this day, and that she starts shaking at just the thought of reliving it.
“I know firsthand how dangerous it is for me as someone who had access to therapy and other forms of support,” she said. “And I still was considering whether my life was worth living or, if everything was wrong with me, then what good was it for me to be around, starting to see myself as someone who only brought harm to other people to society.”
Stoner said the dangers of conversion therapy are “measurable.”
“Even if someone comes out of it on the other side and says, ‘Hey, no, I’m living a great life,’ there are scars there. There are shadows,” she said. “And if you don’t have access to a ton of support and you’re navigating that alone, it is heavy. It is hard, so yes, I’m not capable yet of going back and recounting specifics, which is an indicator of just how difficult that chapter was for me.”
In her powerful essay for Teen Vogue, Stoner noted, “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.” ET spoke to her in November 2019, and she talked about how writing the essay had affected her career in both positive and negative ways, and how she makes a conscious effort to not exploit the LGBTQ community.
“It’s a mixed bag,” she reflected of the reaction to her coming out. “I would say society has shifted so much in 10 years that when that was first a conversation, it might have been more of a negative threat. Now, on the flip side, people are exploiting the queer community, right? And you’re looking at, like, creating more products and services targeting queer people just for brands to look thoughtful and inclusive.”
“I’m not fooled,” she continued. “So, I think now it’s just a matter of making sure when I do talk about that with my audience, it’s also not only in tandem with me selling you merchandise that has rainbows on it. It’s very much like, I want you to be able to find a safe and comfortable atmosphere to talk about these things — no judgment — and also, I don’t need your wallet to get involved.”
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