Kristen Stewart Was Told Holding Hands With Her Girlfriend Would Hurt Her Career

She opened up about the industry’s reluctance to accept her sexuality.

Juergen Teller

Kristen Stewart has never been one to mince words about the nuisance of being a celebrity who engages in the everyday activity of occasionally dating another fellow human being—particularly when that human being doesn’t identify as male. Naturally, then, when asked about what it’s like to constantly discuss her sexuality Harper’s Bazaar UK‘s September issue, Stewart spoke plainly, starting with how her initial attempts to “protect” her personal life ended up “ruining it.”

“Like what, you can’t go outside with who you’re with? You can’t talk about it in an interview?,” Stewart elaborated. “I was informed by an old school mentality, which is—you want to preserve your career and your success and your productivity, and there are people in the world who don’t like you, and they don’t like that you date girls, and they don’t like that you don’t identify as a quote unquote ‘lesbian,’ but you also don’t identify as a quote unquote ‘heterosexual.’ And people like to know stuff, so what the fuck are you?”

No news outlet has ever asked that question as candidly as Stewart’s hypothetical, but it’s not hard to read between the lines of socially conservative tabloids’s coverage of Stewart’s maybe, maybe-not past and present flings. They’ve long been flummoxed at Stewart’s audacity to, say, reject labeling her sexuality, and moves like most recently reuniting with her former ex, Stella Maxwell, and then exhibiting PDA with another fellow human being who—gasp!—isn’t Maxwell soon after. (They apparently didn’t even get it when Stewart broke down her approach to dating with a metaphor about grilled cheese sandwiches.)

Still, this is Hollywood, meaning the tabloids’s old school attitude have managed to influence Stewart’s career nonetheless. “I have fully been told, ‘If you just like do yourself a favor, and don’t go out holding your girlfriend’s hand in public, you might get a Marvel movie,'” the 29-year-old actor recalled. “I don’t want to work with people like that.”

That may have changed, but the fascination has continued, manifesting in a different way: Now, Stewart added, people approach her wanting to make movies about her undefined sexuality. “Literally, life is a huge popularity contest,” she said, shaking her head in what her interviewer described as “mock despair.”

Still, Stewart isn’t against tackling sexuality as a subject in her work altogether. But this time, she’s doing so on her own terms: Her next film is an adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch’s book The Chronology of Water, which tells the story of a woman coming to terms with her attraction to women and men (and all the hurdles that that unfortunately presents). It’ll also mark Stewart’s directorial debut, but it sounds like she’s hoping similar projects will come her way soon. “I just think we’re all kind of getting to a place where—I don’t know, evolution’s a weird thing—we’re all becoming incredibly ambiguous. And it’s this really gorgeous thing,” she said.

Related: Are Tabloids Too Conservative to Understand Queer Celebrity Relationships?