Actress Evan Rachel Wood was honored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for her vocal support of the LGBTQ community.
As Wood accepted the HRC Visibility Award at a gala in North Carolina, she used her speech to share her story of confusion, bisexuality and feelings of suicide.
“Growing up, I thought I was like every other girl who had a slight obsession with Jessica Rabbit, KD Lang and Melissa Etheridge,” the actress told the crowded room. “I didn’t realize that there was anything that would have been considered different about me until I was 12 years old…and I felt something I couldn’t explain.
It was something that made my throat close-up and my stomach clench. Something that made my mouth go dry and my pulse. And it was something so simple yet so terrifying.
“I thought women were beautiful. And I realized, I had always thought women were beautiful. But because I was born that way I never once thought it was something strange or anything to fear.”
As a teenager, she was exposed to the hate speech and taunting of the LGBT community. In response, she buried her feelings. Her silence about sexuality only confused her more. Wood felt there were “inconsistencies to my feelings.”
“Because I also thought that men were beautiful,” she explained. “And I had no way to put what I felt into words. I had no role model. No one I knew was talking about it. I wasn’t exposed. The only thing I knew was fear and confusion and loneliness. How can you be who you are when you don’t understand what you’re feeling?”
After hearing an actress use the word ‘bisexual’ something clicked for Wood. Finally, she said, she found a word that made her feel less alone and gave her hope.
The Westworld star recorded a video of herself, “walking people through my journey of self-realization. Abusive relationships, suicide attempts and finally coming out of the closet.”
She posted the video on YouTube in the hopes it would help others like her understand what they are feeling is normal. Two days later, the shootings in Orlando nightclub Pulse occurred, that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded.
The 29-year-old actress expressed to the crowd that it is her job to find herself in strangers and to have empathy for a character. She feels that being an actor means “turning empathy into vulnerability.”
“If I never make another speech in my life, I’m glad I made this one,” she wrote. “Thank you @HRC for letting me share and connect.” Recently engaged to Zach Villa, her bandmate in Rebel and a Basketcase, Wood also shares a son with ex-husband Jamie Bell.