A chance encounter at a Los Angeles’ LGBTQ center helped Miley Cyrus discover more about her own gender identity and sexuality, the incomparable pop star tells Variety in the magazine’s “Power of Women” issue.
Cyrus, who recently returned to television as a judge on The Voice says, “My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality.”
“I always hated the word ‘bisexual,’ because that’s even putting me in a box,” she explains. “I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl … My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick.”
Cyrus came out as pansexual earlier this year, promising that she’s “very open about it” — but she wasn’t always so sure of herself.
“I went to the LGBTQ center here in L.A., and I started hearing these stories,” she tells Variety. “I saw one human in particular who didn’t identify as male or female. Looking at them, they were both: beautiful and sexy and tough but vulnerable and feminine but masculine. And I related to that person more than I related to anyone in my life.”
She continues, “Even though I may seem very different, people may not see me as neutral as I feel. But I feel very neutral. I think that was the first gender-neutral person I’d ever met. Once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more.”
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Cyrus, 23, says she realized, “that’s why I don’t feel straight and I don’t feel gay. It’s because I’m not.”
The musician — who is currently dating Liam Hemsworth — further asserts that the “LGBTQ alphabet” could be extended to include those like herself, who prefer the title “pansexual.” The term, in a broad respect, means anyone who is attracted to all genders and sexes, per GLAAD.
Working on The Voice has also helped Cyrus’ parents understand her sexual fluidity, something she says she once worried they wouldn’t accept.
“On The Voice, this young girl started crying when she left, because I’m the reason she came out,” shares Cyrus. “My mom started crying. She was like, ‘I’m so sorry about the way I was when you were that age and coming out.’ She never understood me until she saw that girl who couldn’t be herself. It was very cool.”