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Kristen Stewart Is Shedding Her 'Twilight' Past & Embracing Who She Really Is

Photo: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock
Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is setting the world ablaze, only this time, it has nothing to do with any romantic teen vampire saga she filmed when she was 18.

It has nothing to do with her love life or who she’s dating. 

The thrumming buzz around the 33-year-old actor has to do with only one thing: She’s showing up in a way that’s unapologetically herself.

Kristen Stewart is shedding the confines of her past and embracing who she really is.

Stewart is promoting her most recent film, "Love Lies Bleeding," which premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival in January and has a nationwide release set for March 8, 2024. Stewart plays Lou, a gym manager, who falls in love with Jackie, a bodybuilder, played by Katy O’Brian. 

Her cover story for Rolling Stone was released, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day. Both her photo spread and the interview set Queer hearts pounding. 

kristen stewart rolling stone cover storyPhoto: Rolling Stone / Instagram

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It’s not just because she looks incredible, with her perfect mullet, that jawline, and a jockstrap. It’s because of what she said, the eloquent and fierce way she expressed the inner workings of her mind.

There’s power in seeing your identity and your community reflected back to you on the cover of a mainstream magazine. There’s joy in reading Stewart’s words, in absorbing exactly what she means when she says, “Now, I want to do the gayest [expletive] thing you’ve ever seen in your life.”

“If I got through the entire 'Twilight' series without ever doing a Rolling Stone cover, it’s because the boys were the sex symbols,” she explained. 

By appearing as she does, in a leather vest, her hand dipping below the waistline of a piece of clothing made for men, in a photo not designed for men, at all, Stewart breathes life into the word “subversive.” 

She’s claiming space as someone who says that her “sexuality is totally fluid.” And she’s not backing down.

In the decade and a half after Stewart took on the role of Bella Swan in the 'Twilight' franchise, there was an unending focus on her relationship with Robert Pattinson. It eclipsed any coverage of who she was as a person, as a creator, as an entity separate from the man she acted alongside.

In interviews and press tours from that time, Stewart seemed uneasy, and edgy, like she wanted to be anywhere else. Now, Stewart is fully inhabiting who she is. 

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Stewart is reveling in the remarkable Queer joy that’s borne from knowing oneself completely.

In an industry that upholds a very certain kind of female physicality, magnified by the harsh and unrelenting straight male gaze, starring in a Queer love story, as a Queer person, is nothing short of mind-blowing. 

Stewart spoke to being out in Hollywood, noting, “There aren’t that many openly gay movie stars.”

She noted that her Queerness hasn’t hemmed her in, professionally, yet she acknowledged “That’s probably because of the sort of space that I inhabit and the parts that I’m attracted to and the filmmakers that are attracted to me and the audience that exists for those movies.”

Kristen Stewart Is Shedding Her 'Twilight' Past And Embracing Who She Really IsPhoto: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock

“Had I really wanted to carve out more commercial space and maintain that, I don’t know if that would’ve worked,” she said. “I never have felt like I have performed a femininity in order to reap its benefits in a way that felt like a lie,” she explained.

Yet she recognizes that holding an identity that hinges on an image of what men want provides access and wields power, saying, “There’s so much room for success when you choose the girlie one. There’s no room for this other one.”

Stewart was born in 1990, an era that feels entirely distant in terms of how rigidly defined gender identity and expression were then, and how scary it felt to be anything but straight. 

Queerness exists along a margin, one that seems to be widening every day, with every Supreme Court decision, legislating book bans, trans and Queer bodies, and the right to live. 

Stewart’s Rolling Stone cover holds meaning beyond being a really hot photo of a really talented actor. 

   

   

Living a life for anyone else’s standards but our own is to live immersed in shadows.

The wild ferocity of being ourselves, of loving who we love, is what gives the world texture and beauty. 

Stewart could have made a different decision about how to be. She could have shielded her true self from public scrutiny, yet to do so would be a form of erasure. 

“We make choices every [expletive] day about who we’re going to be,” she said. “Not in a controlling way, but just in a way that acknowledges, ‘This is who I am. It’s the easiest one. It’s the one that’s the most comfortable. It’s the one I’ve chosen.’”

Choosing to be herself is a declaration of triumph, for every Queer kid on Earth, and for all the ones no longer here.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.