Amber Heard has always been queer.
But, as she said at The Economist's second annual Pride & Prejudice event in New York City Thursday, "It was just not important or interesting enough to make headlines." Heard publicly discussed her sexual orientation for the first time in 2010, but to her family and friends, she "was always out. I was an activist. I went to protests." Funnily enough, she added, "I was never in. I was in a relationship and I never hid it and then my career and my life started to change..."
In 2010, After Ellen asked Heard about her sexuality. "I just answered honestly. I could tell by the look on this person's face it was a big deal. My poor publicist. Then I realized the gravity of what I had done and why so many people—studio execs, agents, advisors—did not want this coming before my name. I became attached to a label. I've never seen myself defined by the person I'm with," Heard recalled. Rather than keep that aspect of her life private, "I saw myself being in this unique position and having a unique responsibility. So, I bit the bullet."
Heard was told having the word "bisexual" attached to her name was problematic. "As a leading lady, there's a certain amount of wish fulfillment. I was asked 'How is anyone going to invest in you romantically if they think you're unavailable?'" she said. "I said, 'Watch me do it.'"
In the years since her public "coming out," Heard has worked steadily, starring in The Rum Diary, Machete Kills, Magic Mike XXL and The Danish Girl—all while fighting for LGBTQ causes.
The Justice League actress, who finalized her divorce from Johnny Depp last year, is proud to see other actors in Hollywood coming out. "I stand here now amongst many of my romantic leading lady peers who are out and fluid," Heard said. "I'm one of many now, and I'm working."
"If we're meant to reflect the world around us, the whole point of telling stories and reaching audiences is to challenge the status quo, to push the envelope. Not just to meet the status quo. We're in a unique position to do this," she told the audience. "We need to be actively pushing."
Heard argued that women are at the forefront of the LGBTQ fight in Hollywood. "If every gay man that I know personally in Hollywood came out tomorrow, then this would be a non-issue in a month." Despite the progress that's already been made, she said, "We have a long way to go."