Evan Rachel Wood’s HRC Speech is Just One Reason She’s My Bi Hero

2/15/2017

Last week, actor Evan Rachel Wood – who you might know as Dolores, the oldest of Westworld’s many hosts – won the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award, and gave a deeply moving speech about her experiences as a bisexual woman and artist.

The stories she told about feeling confused, alone, alien, and afraid rang a little too true for me and – I’d be willing to bet – a lot of other bi folks. She spoke of how in her adolescence, witnessing one actress simply saying the word “bisexual” changed her life, because it gave her a word to describe how she was feeling. She said she now feels it’s her duty as an artist to speak out – to hopefully now become that strong influence in someone else’s life.

In one 13-minute speech, she did just that and proved exactly why she deserved an award all about using one’s fame or platform to shine light on those who usually remain in the shadows.

I first became aware of Evan Rachel Wood last June when I saw a YouTube video she had recorded about her experiences as a bisexual woman.

It was raw and beautiful and completely relatable. It inspired in me all of the same emotions her HRC speech did last week. It made me feel comforted, and a little less alone. It gave me hope for a new generation of bi kids, who would hopefully see people like her and feel a little less alone, too.

Completely infatuated with this incredible person, I looked up Evan Rachel Wood and found television, movies, and her band, Rebel and a Basketcase. I eagerly listened to all of the songs I could find and quickly moved on to Westworld. I was hooked.

About a month later, I found myself on my way to a venue I’d never heard of to see Wood’s band, which had quickly become a favorite of mine. I had dubbed the evening a “Bi Girls’ Night Out,” because those I was with, myself, and the woman we were there to see were all bisexual.

Together my group and I talked, laughed and drank while waiting for the show to begin. The venue, being as small as it was, afforded us the rare chance to chill in the same rooms as the performers before the show. It was there, on a patio lit by a mix of string and neon lights that I saw the “basketcase” herself, Evan Rachel Wood.

I tried to be cool, to ignore that this amazing person was standing so close to me, even while I desperately wanted to tell her how powerful her YouTube video about coming out was, how talented of an actress she is, and how much I loved the songs that had been on repeat in my headphones.

I didn’t get the opportunity before it was suddenly time for the show to begin. My fellow bi ladies and I found a great spot dead-center, maybe four feet from the stage. When the music began and Evan Rachel Wood was standing before me, looking strong and fierce and just a bit nervous, doused in lights in hues that echoed the bi pride colors, I knew I’d found not only a new role model, but a new queer hero.

Beyond her incredible speeches and artistry, Evan Rachel Wood has showed her support for women and the LGBT community in many ways.

  • Her band, Rebel and a Basketcase, is all about being the most authentic you that you can be. They subvert gender norms with their outfits and attitudes and sell T-shirts adorned with the lyric “Why can’t I just be me?”
  • The band also rightfully embraces all members of the LGBT community and offer a moment of support in their shows for any LGBT person who wishes to speak up.
  • Wood has worn fabulously tailored suits this whole award season and for the interviews she has had while promoting “Westworld.” When asked about them, she said “I’ve worn a dress every single time, and I love dresses. I’m not trying to protest dresses, but I want young girls and women to know that it’s not a requirement.”
  • As well as attending the Women’s March on Washington, Wood advocates for women’s organizations in her daily life and has shared her story as a survivor of sexual assault in the hope of helping fellow survivors feel supported and understood.

Yes, in my eyes, Wood has established herself as a vital, powerful member of our community.

And, yes, she is also my dream karaoke partner:

 

Mckenna Ferguson
McKenna Ferguson is a bi activist, writer, and Corgi enthusiast living in Los Angeles. Originally hailing from suburban Colorado, McKenna graduated from Colorado State University with a major in English and a minor in Media Studies. Her work focuses on such things as LGBT life, entertainment and pop culture, and intersectional feminism. You can follow her on Twitter @McKennaMagazine for ramblings on her daily life and whatever show she's currently bingeing on Netflix.