Lili Reinhart has had a complicated year after filming for her show Riverdale was shut down as a result of the coronavirus, going through a public breakup with her cast mate Cole Sprouse and learning how to best use her platform for productive conversations about racism in America. But despite all that she’s been going through, she tells Nylon that she was surprised to see that an Instagram story where she quietly disclosed that she is bisexual received so much attention.
“I’m like, ‘Isn’t everyone bisexual?’” she said to the publication, talking about a post she had created back in June, which read, “Although I’ve never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman. And I will be joining this protest today. Come join.” The announcement was made in a way to express her connection to an LGBTQ Black Lives Matter rally that she would be attending that day. And although it made headlines shortly thereafter, Reinhart says it is a part of her identify that she has known about since she was young.
“I remember being in fifth grade. I was waiting for my bus. I remember this so weirdly and vividly, just standing by myself going, ‘Do I like girls?’ I don’t even know where it came from or why,” she recalled. “I remember looking at this article — I think it was in Cosmo — that asked ‘Do you want to be with that woman that you’re looking at, or do you want to be her?’ I was like, ‘I would like to be her, because she’s a sexy, amazing woman, but I also want to be with her.’”
The 23-year-old actress went on to say that she hadn’t dated girls until “right now,” although she had been with a girl when she was 18. It wasn’t made public, but she said that it was nothing she hid from those close to her.
“This part of my life was never intentionally hidden. My friends and family knew. My cast members knew,” she said. “I didn’t want to come out and talk about it because I felt that bisexuality was becoming a trend [among celebrities], but I’ve supported the LGBTQ community since I was a little tween, and it just felt organic. I was like, ‘F*** it. Now’s the time. It’s not something I’m ashamed of.’”
Something that Reinhart also hasn’t been ashamed of is admitting her own missteps when it comes to being an ally and understanding racism in America during the heightened response to the killings of Black women and men throughout the country.
“As a white woman, I didn’t know jack s*** about racism. I don’t know what it’s like to be racially profiled. I don’t know what it’s like to fear for my life walking past a police officer,” she said. “Racism is something that people feel in the womb. That’s something that just inherently I have never experienced.”
She explained that she “really wanted to learn,” and brought speakers and activists onto her Instagram page where she has 24.8 million followers to have discussions about systemic racism and allyship. “I did say the wrong thing a couple times [on Instagram Live],” she acknowledged. “It was like, ‘Oh, no. We don’t use that term,’ or, ‘That’s not really something people say.’”
These instances include a topless photo that she posted to Instagram in late June with the caption, “Now that my sideboob has gotten your attention, Breonna Taylor’s murderers have not been arrested. Demand justice.” People immediately called the actress out for turning the young Black women’s death into a meme-worthy instance. She later admitted on Twitter that she had made a mistake, although she told Nylon that she finds that hard to do.
“I’m a stubborn person. I used to have a very hard time apologizing, very hard. I still sometimes do, but now I definitely can own up to my s***,” she said. “If I did something wrong, I don’t have a problem apologizing for it.”
Educating herself on racism, apologizing for her mistakes and opening up about different aspects of her identity are all a part of Reinhart’s mission to face her heightened struggles with mental illness during the unprecedented times of the pandemic. “At the beginning of this pandemic, I felt very lost,” she said. “I felt very sad and hopeless, because of personal things that were happening in my life. Instead of distracting myself, f****ing random people and doing drugs and drinking my problems away, I chose the harder route, which was to not distract myself. I was like, ‘I’m not doing that. I’m going to go through the next however many months of shit, pure shit, awful, crying every day, but the necessary work.’”
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