Former Disney Channel and Step Up actress Alyson Stoner shared her struggle to embrace her sexuality in a powerful and moving essay about how she fell in love with a woman for the first time in her life.
The actress, 24, who has appeared in films such as Cheaper by the Dozen and on Disney shows like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, wrote about her, at times, tough journey for Teen Vogue in an essay published on Friday.
In the essay, the star does not label her sexuality but instead said she now realizes she is attracted to men, women and those who do not define themselves in those terms.
Stoner described in detail about how she realized she was not attracted to just men after she became “mesmerized and intimidated” when she attended a dance workshop and met her female instructor.
“After I dizzied myself from doing knee spins, she walked toward me to correct my form,” she wrote. “My heart raced wildly and my body grew hot. Was I nervous to fail in front of an expert? Was I breathing heavily from being out of shape? Her smile was the most electrifying thing I’d ever seen.”
After her class, Stoner texted her mother and her best friend, writing, “I met a woman today, I’m not sure who she is or what I’m feeling, but I think she’s going to be in my life for a very long time.”
As Stoner began to get to know the dance instructor, she also struggled with her feelings that weren’t “quite sisterly or platonic.”
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“I realized I had never fantasized about a guy this way, nor really ever felt comfortable dating guys,” Stoner wrote. “Come to think of it, I stared at women’s bodies more than anything. But wasn’t that just societal conditioning or the unattainable beauty standards that fuel comparison and objectification? I refused to entertain other possibilities.”
Despite questioning how she felt, Stoner said the relationship progressed, leading to the two of them spending more time together.
“She and I continued to hang out and began sending good morning texts. Then we made dinner and watched Orange Is the New Black,” Stoner wrote in Teen Vogue. “Then we vented and supported each other. Then cuddled. Then kissed and kissed some more.”
“OK, we were in a relationship. I fell in love with a woman,” she realized.
While she can say that now, Stoner tried to deny her feelings for the woman prior to that and said she attended therapy for years after that in an attempt to figure out where her attraction was stemming from.
“In its purest sense, I felt awakened, more compassionate and like my truest self,” Stoner wrote. “She strengthened and inspired me, creating a space for me to discover myself without judgment. We were an example of true love.”
She struggled to accept her sexuality, admitting she had “internalized some of the harmful beliefs and misconceptions about LGBTQ people and identities.”
She added that “some people in the industry warned me that I’d ruin my career, miss out on possible jobs, and potentially put my life in danger if I ever came out. My dream and all I’d worked tirelessly for since the age of 6 was suddenly at risk by my being . . . true to myself.”
The Camp Rock actress said she prayed nightly to try and rid herself of her feelings and sought the help of pastors while also turning engaging in physical relationships with men “to convince myself that my love for her was just a spiritual battle attacking my character and discernment.”
While she continued to struggle with her inner turmoil, the dancer wrote she focused on how her partner had shaped her.
Today she accepts who she is and who she loves.
“I, Alyson, am attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways,” she continued. “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.”
Stoner also shared a video of herself on Instagram Stories, in which she grew emotional as she announced the release of her new single, “When It’s Right” along with her Teen Vogue essay.
“Happy release day! My song when it’s right is finally out and I’m a little emotional because my article with teen vogue is out and I’m out,” she said, her voice thickening with emotion.