Queer Voices

These 21 Words About Sex May Be The Most Important Words Miley Cyrus Has Ever Said

Event co-host Miley Cyrus poses at the opening of W Magazine's "Shooting Stars" exhibit at the Old May Company Building on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, in Los Angeles. The exhibit features archival fashion stories and portraiture from the magazine. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Event co-host Miley Cyrus poses at the opening of W Magazine's "Shooting Stars" exhibit at the Old May Company Building on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, in Los Angeles. The exhibit features archival fashion stories and portraiture from the magazine. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Miley Cyrus is not shy.

You only have to take one look at Paper magazine's NSFW summer music issue to understand that.

The closest thing we've had to a flesh and blood Disney teen princess has grown up and been replaced by a topless (and mostly bottomless) woman covered in mud and wrestling a pig.

But aside from her willingness to strip down to practically nothing and publicly celebrate what her achy-breaky daddy gave her with a soon-to-be pork product, Miley is also not shy about speaking her mind, especially when it comes to her feelings about the queer community.

A quick Google search surfaces story after story about the pop singer's dedication to equality. Here she's showing off the tattoo she got in support of same-sex marriage; here she's discussing her foundation to help homeless queer youth; here she's urging her hordes of fans to "stir some shit up" and make some trouble for an anti-queer politician.

But Miley may have just outdone herself in the interview that accompanies her photo shoot. Aside from discussing how, as a 14-year-old, she told her mother she had romantic feelings towards women -- an exciting enough moment for a pop star of her caliber to be sharing -- these 21 words are perhaps the most important words Miley has ever said:

"I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn't involve an animal and everyone is of age."

She adds, "Everything that's legal, I'm down with. Yo, I'm down with any adult -- anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me... I don't relate to being boy or girl, and I don't have to have my partner relate to boy or girl."

Girlfriend is not just DTF -- she's ready to rumble with anyone who piques her interest and she's apparently up for anything that feels good. She's "literally open to every single thing." Take a second to let that sink in. Every. Single. Thing. In our still shockingly Puritan culture in which sex simultaneously shames as it sells -- and women and queer people are told that their sexuality is at best something to be policed and at worst is evil -- her statement is nothing short of radical.

Her comment especially speaks to me as a queer person who isn't interested in assimilating into a heteronormative culture that privileges and enforces a binary gender system and who believes that sexual liberation is the cornerstone of queer liberation (and, what's more, that queer liberation is the cornerstone of human liberation).

How do we become sexually liberated? Owning not only our sexuality but also our sexual desires -- that we are inherently sexual creatures and that sex is something inherently positive, as Miley is proposing -- has the potential to reboot and reconfigure everything about how we understand and treat each other and ourselves and, ultimately, how we live our lives.

Until we realize that the way we have systematically designed our relationships and families has been and continues to be flawed, we're going to be stuck making the same mistakes and saddled with the same problems, from cheating and divorce to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections to depression and anxiety.

I think this is especially crucial at this specific moment in history with the Supreme Court about to rule on marriage equality sometime in the next three weeks. Yes, queer people should have all of the same rights as our non-queer counterparts. I'm hoping for good news from the Court but buying into the broken system of marriage without overhauling it to include new ways of looking at love, companionship, family and -- yes -- sex doesn't feel like progress or winning to me.

By speaking out about her desires -- desires that she seems to be implying involve the possibility of interactions and activities that many of us wouldn't necessarily consider vanilla -- Miley is taking a giant step towards changing the way we think about sex: who has it, how we have it, who we have it with and how the feel about it and ourselves before, while and after we're having it. And by changing the way we think about sex, we start to change the way we think about women and what they're worth. And we start to change the way we think about queer people and what they're worth. And we start to understand that if sex isn't a commodity whose production and distribution is controlled by a select few in order to organize our culture in a way that's most advantageous to rich, white, straight men, it's capable of destroying the roots of so many of the things that ail us -- from sexism to homophobia to transphobia.

While Miley is obviously not the first famous woman to talk about her sexuality or sex (requisite shout out to Madonna), she is the first with the kind of exposure to and influence over young people that she has and since, as Whitney so eloquently put it, the children are the future, that's huge.

So what does this really mean for us? What happens now? How do we move this from just an interview with a pop culture publication to a potentially culture-changing moment? Here's what I humbly suggest:

We take Miley's cue and we come out -- and not just about our sexuality and our gender identity but also about our sexual appetites. We own up to actually having sexual appetites -- and not just for procreating and not just the missionary position with the lights out -- and then we actually own them and use them to live happier, more productive lives. If we're queer, we stop being ashamed of being queer or being attracted to partners who fall outside of the range of who our society has told us we should be attracted to. If we're not queer, we affirm our queer brothers and sisters and not just when they look and act like non-queer people. We embrace whatever makes gives us pleasure and doesn't hurt anyone else (unless they're asking us to hurt them) and we stop feeling guilty about giving and receiving pleasure. We celebrate being impressively talented bottoms or our love of big feet with beautiful arches or just how good it feels to be with someone (or several someones) who wants to make us feel good. If we're not open to "every single thing," as Miley is -- and we don't have to be, understanding our limits and boundaries is healthy! -- then at the very least, we're open to respecting each other's desires and decisions.

Of course, most of us don't have a platform like Miley and most of us probably aren't comfortable broadcasting our desires in such a public way and I'm not saying that we all should or need to. But we should work to be honest with ourselves about who we are and what we want -- or don't want. If you're not a sexual person or the missionary position in the dark is your thing, by all means, go with that. The point is that our desires, whatever they may be, shouldn't be ignored or left untended to rot or they'll be our downfall.

Sex is not the enemy, it's the answer. So let's start getting dirty so we can join Miley in cleaning up our sex-shaming culture (pig and mud to wrestle him in sold separately.)

Before You Go

Megan Fox

In a 2011 Esquire interview, Megan Fox confirmed her bisexuality, stating, "I think people are born bisexual and then make subconscious choices based on the pressures of society. I have no question in my mind about being bisexual. But I'm also a hypocrite: I would never date a girl who was bisexual, because that means they also sleep with men, and men are so dirty that I'd never want to sleep with a girl who had slept with a man."

Billie Joe Armstrong

The Green Day front man opened up about his sexuality in a 1995 interview with The Advocate: "I think I've always been bisexual. I mean, it's something that I've always been interested in. I think everybody kind of fantasizes about the same sex. I think people are born bisexual, and it's just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of 'Oh, I can't.' They say it's taboo. It's ingrained in our heads that it's bad, when it's not bad at all. It's a very beautiful thing."

Margaret Cho

Comedian Margaret Cho has long been open about her sexuality. In August 2013, Cho discussed the semantics surrounding her open marriage to artist Al Ridenour, saying that she's "technically not able to stay with one person sexually because I’m bisexual,” and joking that she just “can’t stop up that hole.” She also identifies as queer, and opened up about her sexuality in an interview with HuffPost Gay Voices Editor-At-Large Michelangelo Signorile.

Clive Davis

Twice-married record executive and music mogul Clive Davis came out as bisexual in his 2013 memoir, The Soundtrack Of My Life. Davis opened up about two long-term relationships he had with men after his divorce from his second wife.

Anna Paquin
Anna Paquin is adamantly open about her bisexuality. The actress told "Zooey" magazine in a 2009 interview, "For me, it’s not really an issue because I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. It’s not made up. It’s not a lack of decision."
Megan Mullally
After telling The Advocate in 1999 that she was bisexual, Mullally clarified her statements in an interview with Queerty, telling the blog: "I said that I thought that everybody is innately bisexual. I think there are different levels of awareness attached to that, so I may believe that everybody is innately bisexual, but somebody who is very homophobic may not see that quality in themselves in any way, shape or form. That’s on a very philosophical or even metaphysical level, you know what I mean? It’s not something that I think people are ready for yet. I think if you ask the average guy on the street if he was innately bisexual, he’d be like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ and then he’d punch you in the face. So, we’re not quite there."
Azealia Banks
The rapper has been openly bisexual since the early days of her career: "I mean, I'm bisexual, so it makes sense. But I don't want to be that girl who says all gays necessarily hang out together, of course! I have people say to me, 'Oh wow, my friend is gay, too,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, so?'"
Andy Dick
Many people mistakenly assume that Andy Dick identifies as gay. However, he told The Washington Post in a 2006 interview that, "just because I've been with guys, and I'm bi, doesn't mean I'm gay."
Bai Ling

Actress Bai Ling is openly bisexual -- and the identity category has often provided some humorous mix-ups involving her first name. According to GLAAD, she discussed it in-depth in a 2009 interview with Entertainment Weekly: "[A]t first when I was in the United States I didn't always have an interpreter in interviews and I didn't speak English so well. There was some confusion. My name is pronounced 'bi,' so when I was asked, 'Are you bi?' I said, 'Yes, I am Bai.' Do you like men? 'Of course!' Do you like women? 'Why yes!' And later I found out what that means and I said, 'Sure, I am bi!' But I think the interpreters and the reporters thought that I didn't know what I was saying because I was so open about it. They were uncomfortable about it. Such a thing is not important for me."

Carrie Brownstein

The "Portlandia" star and former guitarist and vocalist for Sleater-Kinney is often assumed to identify as gay. However, she told "Willamette Week" in 2012 that, "It’s weird, because no one’s actually ever asked me. People just always assume, like, you’re this or that. It’s like, ‘OK. I’m bisexual.’”

David Bowie
Though David Bowie has historically played coy surrounding his sexuality, he clarified the subject in a 1976 interview with "Playboy." "It's true -- I am a bisexual. But I can't deny that I've used that fact very well. I suppose it's the best thing that ever happened to me."
The always-polarizing Snooki sat down with The Huffington Post in February 2012 and sought to clarify her sexual preference. "I would consider myself bi. I've done stuff with girls before. But I would never be with a girl because I like... penis. But I've experimented."
Amber Heard
Amber Heard has been openly bisexual for quite some time, and discussed this aspect of her identity in "Elle." The model and actress told reporters: "[I] didn't want to look like I was hiding anything."
Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie has been open about her sexuality for quite some time, having had numerous encounters and relationships with women. She reportedly told OK Magazine that, "I have loved women in the past and slept with them. I think if you love and want to pleasure a woman, particularly if you are a woman yourself, then certainly you know how to do things a certain way."
Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood came out on Twitter in 2012: “I myself am bisexual and have always ‘joked’ about Miley giving me gay vibes. Not a bad thing! Just an observation.”
The author of Push, the book that inspired the critically acclaimed film "Precious," describes herself as bisexual.
Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore originally came out in an interview in Contact Magazine in 2003, saying, "Do I like women sexually? Yeah, I do. Totally. I have always considered myself bisexual... I love a woman's body. I think a woman and a woman together are beautiful, just as a man and a woman together are beautiful. Being with a woman is like exploring your own body, but through someone else."
Frenchie Davis
This former "American Idol" and "The Voice" contestant came out in 2012, telling her fans that she had been in a relationship with a woman for the past year and had dated men and women.
Vanessa Carlton
Musician Vanessa Carlton came out publicly at 2010's Nashville Pride, announcing to a crowd of 18,000 that, "I've never said this before, but I am a proud bisexual woman!"
The Black Eyed Peas front woman confirmed speculation surrounding her sexual identity in 2009 through an interview with The Advocate: "Q: After you discussed past sexual experiences with women in an interview with 'The Sun' in May, headlines everywhere read, 'Fergie Admits She’s Bisexual!' A: The funny thing is that I was very open and honest about that from the very beginning, and everyone was acting like it was some new trend. Go back four or five years, people, and you’ll see the same answer. "
Pete Townshend
In his book, Who I Am: A Memoir by Pete Townshend, this musician confirmed that he is "probably bisexual" and cited his attraction to Mick Jagger, calling him "the only man I've ever seriously wanted to fuck."
Tila Tequila
Tila Tequila is not one to shy away from anything. The former Myspace celebrity did several reality shows centered around identifying as bisexual, beginning with "A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila." She was also the girlfriend of Casey Johnson, the Johnson & Johnson heiress, who passed away in 2010.
Amber Rose
Amber Rose has long been perceived to be openly bisexual without actually addressing the way she identifies. In an interview with Complex magazine, the model sought to clarify the rumors: "They label me a bisexual freak stripper that fucks Kanye on a daily basis. To answer that: I’m extremely open with my sexuality. I can be in love with a woman, I can be in love with a man. I’m not into bestiality, but as far as humans go, I definitely find beauty in everybody, whether they’re heavy-set, super-skinny, if they’re white, black, Indian, Asian, Spanish. I can see beauty in anybody. I’m not into threesomes or orgies and shit like that. If I see a women and I think she’s beautiful and I like her, and she likes me back we can definitely try to be in a relationship together."
Cynthia Nixon
Currently married to wife Christine Marinoni, Nixon confirmed in a January 2012 interview with The Daily Beast that she is bisexual. The "Sex And The City" star stated, "I don’t pull out the 'bisexual' word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals... We get no respect."
Jillian Michaels
The first lady to ever come out in "Lady's Home Journal" as bisexual, "Biggest Loser" coach and personal trainer Jillian Michaels told the magazine in 2010: “Let’s just say I believe in healthy love. If I fall in love with a woman, that’s awesome. If I fall in love with a man, that’s awesome. As long as you fall in love… it’s like organic food. I only eat healthy food, and I only want healthy love!”
Kim Zolciak
Former "Real Housewives Of Atlanta" star Kim Zolciak was in public relationships with both the mysterious "Big Poppa" and DJ Tracy Young before marrying Kroy Biermann. In a 2010 interview with Life & Style, interviewers posed the following question for the reality queen: "Q: Do you feel you're giving a voice to other bisexual parents? A: I'm among the millions of parents who have been in a gay or lesbian relationship. It hasn't been an easy road lately, but I feel there are no mistakes in my life. Everything happens for a reason. To have the opportunity to speak for myself and to have people understand what I'm going through is really special. I myself was confused and scared at first. Being able to speak from my heart and get this all out, it's a huge relief for me."
Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has been open for quite some time about her bisexuality, initially coming out in a 2010 interview with Barbara Walters.
'Mama June' Shannon
Charles Norfleet via Getty Images

The star of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" revealed that she's bisexual in an "Inside Edition" interview in April 2015. Her daughter "Pumpkin" Lauryn Thompson also came out as bi at the same time.

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