Miley Cyrus is an open book.
The Voice coach has been named one of Variety's Power of Women cover stars, and in her wide-ranging interview Miley discusses her dedication to the LGBTQ community and her sexuality. Now a passionate activist, Miley tells the magazine that her identity struggles led her to become such a staple in the community.
"My whole life, I didn't understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word 'bisexual,' because that's even putting me in a box. I don't ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl," she tells Variety. "Also, my nipple pasties and s--t never felt sexualized to me. My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick. I grew up in a very religious Southern family."
Despite her confusion and religious upbringing, Miley knew that she would figure it all out. "The universe has always given me the power to know I'll be OK," she adds. "Even at that time, when my parents didn't understand, I just felt that one day they are going to understand."
Now engaged to Liam Hemsworth, Miley explains she didn't really understand her identity until she met other people who thought the way she did.
"I went to the LGBTQ center here in L.A., and I started hearing these stories. I saw one human in particular who didn't identify as male or female. Looking at them, they were both: beautiful and sexy and tough but vulnerable and feminine but masculine. And I related to that person more than I related to anyone in my life," Miley explains.
"Even though I may seem very different, people may not see me as neutral as I feel. But I feel very neutral. I think that was the first gender-neutral person I'd ever met. Once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more. I was like, 'Oh—that's why I don't feel straight and I don't feel gay. It's because I'm not.'"
After struggling to find her voice for so long, Miley admits she feels stronger now than ever because she has a mission. "My empowerment comes from feeling like I have a purpose now. On my tombstone, I didn't want the 'Wrecking Ball' lyrics. I wanted it to be something greater. I'm the only f--king Disney star who would say I'm pro lesbian and gay, before it was OK to say that," she says.
It's safe to say that Miley is anything but judgmental. The star is open to anything and anyone, even if there's controversy surrounding a figure with whom she works. Having worked with Woody Allen for Amazon's Crisis in Six Scenes, Miley says she judges a person by what she personally experiences.
"I live a similar life to Woody—I live a public life. Until I know someone and I know their story, I never really judge anyone. That's kind of how I went into it," she explains to Variety. "From the way I saw him with his family, I never saw him be anything but an incredible person and a really great dad. People might slam me for saying that. I'm sure it was a hard time for that family. My family has been through hard things, and I think everyone's suffering is different."