Former Disney star Alyson Stoner comes out as bisexual, opens about struggle with religion

Former Disney actress Alyson Stoner has come out as bisexual.

The 24-year-old musician and actress, who is best known for her roles in Cheaper by the Dozen and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, opened up about her sexuality in an emotional essay for Teen Vogue.

In the post Stoner recalled falling in love with a woman and spoke movingly about her long journey to truly accept her own self.

She wrote: “I’m very sensitive to the incredibly diverse range of opinions within religious and secular communities, and honestly, I’d appreciate if we focused first on the experiences and dignity of the people.

“I’m asking for you to feel what I feel on a human level, to appreciate the beauty of someone diving into the unknown in pursuit of love and truth. I’m asking you to accept me as I accept myself.

“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.

“It is the love we can build and the goodness we can contribute to the world by supporting each other’s best journeys.”

Alyson Stoner onstage during the 2017 Streamy Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dick clark productions)

Of the women she was in love with, Stoner added: “I spent years — not months or weeks or days, but years — trying to identify the source of my attraction to her. Like many, I had internalized some of the harmful beliefs and misconceptions about LGBTQ people and identities.

“At the time, I thought, Maybe it’s because I moved away from my father as a child and didn’t have typical male guidance in my life. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced abuse from men and therefore I’m scared of intimacy with them (and in general). Maybe it’s because open sexuality is prevalent in my artistic community and I subconsciously just want to fit in. Maybe I actually want to be her, and I’m mistaking idolization for romance. Anything besides being gay, please!”

She added: “My faith at that time played a large role in every aspect of my life, and my worldview neither supported nor accepted same-sex relationships.

“I prayed in turmoil nightly, begging to be healed from these desires. Certain pastors and community members tried to reverse and eliminate my attraction to her.

“I pursued physical relationships with men to convince myself that my love for her was just a spiritual battle attacking my character and discernment. I pored over texts, contemporary and ancient, seeking truth and answers from professors, scientists, church leaders, friends, and family. I didn’t want to get this wrong.

“After all, not only was I trying to be a ‘good and upright’ person, but I’m also a public figure with responsibility and extreme pressure.”

Alyson Stoner attends the Flagship LA Pop Up Store with opening party fueled by CIROC Ultra-Premium Vodka on April 1, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Paul Wilmot )

She added: “If you’re questioning or struggling with your sexuality, gender identity, or anything else, know that I and so many who’ve gone before us are with you.

“Whatever your identity, you are lovable and wonderful and enough. I’m on the other side of some of these battles internally, but it’s still a challenge in the outside world. It’s OK. Dare to be yourself anyway.

“Find support, because we’re out there! And when you fall in love with anyone, you’ll know exactly what I felt for her.” As [my song] When It’s Right describes, it’s right when it’s right — and who it’s right with. She messed up everything in the best way possible, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”