Rowan Blanchard of Girl Meets World is receiving a mixed bag of reaction since labelling herself as queer on social media in a series of tweets. The 14-year-old admitted that while she has only liked boys in her lifetime, she does not want to restrict herself to one particular kind of relationship should the opportunity arise in her future.
“In my life—only ever liked boys,” she writes. “However I personally don’t wanna label myself as straight, gay or whateva so I am not gonna give myself labels to stick with—just existing ;).”
Wetpaint reports that in saying she identifies as queer, Rowan Blanchard said she believed that the identifier effectively lets her leave her options open for any sort of relationship when she is at the point in her life where she wants a relationship. Coverage Mail notes that Blanchard, who is known for being relatively softspoken, has come under fire for her views, which includes a recently-published essay on Rookie Mag, an online magazine “by and for teens (and their cohorts of any age),” according to the site’s About page.
In “Sorry, Not Sorry,” Rowan Blanchard expressed what so many young girls have themselves felt about the dangers of expressing themselves, and noted that it seemed easier to stay quiet.
“It has felt safer and less terrifying to silence myself to a degree, than to actually engage with people, and make them take responsibility for their own actions,” she wrote, adding that she had often acted as though the feelings of others — particularly her male peers — were far more fragile and more important than her own.
It is not the first time Rowan Blanchard has taken a stand. In August, 2015, Blanchard also wrote a passionate essay about what she termed “white feminism” — a type of feminism that Hollywood Life defined as “feminism that’s not intersectional; it forgets that women of color and white women are faced with different kinds of sexism.”
Part of the problem that Rowan Blanchard is now facing, however, is that she is coming under fire for expressing herself so openly. One parent said via Facebook that “As the mom of someone who looks up to you, this appals me! Ok, ok.. equality… acceptance… to each his own… I’m not judging you… etc, etc. 1) You’re 14. 2) I love your show. It’s one of the best that’s been on Disney in a really long time. It contains amazing life lessons that I love to talk about with my 9 year old. However…3) I have to pray about the kind of role model you are for my daughter and if your show will be allowed in my home any longer.”
Another said, also via Facebook, that “My 14 yr olds are reading books and biking ‘into town’ so they can get candy at the dollar store. They’re hanging out with their parents and learning how to make dinner and why you can’t put bleach into dark loads of laundry. They’re seeing Star Wars and laughing at nerdy, 14 yr old jokes. This poor kid is announcing her sexual identity. We are messing up our kids, big time—and it’s nothing to be proud of. She’s 14.”
There are those individuals, however, who have recognized that Rowan Blanchard is continuing to be a positive role model for many youth. At 14, she is addressing issues that many adults might be wary about discussing, and she is also showing youth that it is okay to simply be who they are. She continues to encourage people to talk openly about a range of issues, including feminism and sexuality, because “discussion leads to change,” according to what Us Weekly reported.
Rowan Blanchard also recognized that she had come under fire, and while she was unhappy about some of the comments, she noted that she did feel proud of herself for taking a stand.
@lovingrowboat like I thought I was being brave and was proud of myself and then everyone attacks me… Cool
— Rowan Blanchard (@rowblanchard) January 17, 2016
Rowan Blanchard has demonstrated a sense of self and grace that few people openly possess, and while many might denigrate her for her choice to discuss her sexuality in an open forum, she has shown why so many youth look up to her, both as Riley Matthews on Girl Meets World and as herself.
[Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]