The actress who rose to fandom in her role as Barb on Netflix’s breakout summer series Stranger Things, Shannon Purser, has come out as bisexual in response to a Twitter scuffle she got into with fans of the CW series Riverdale. Purser, who plays recurring character Ethel Muggs on the freshman series —based on the Archie comics — got into a tussle with fans of the show when she questioned why “shippers” of the Betty and Veronica characters were angry following a kiss between them that was completely staged for what appeared to be a ratings grab in the first episode promo. After fans on Twitter explained to Purser what “queerbaiting” is, she thanked them in a note while coming out, Jezebel reports.
“I don’t normally do this, but I figure now is as good a time as any to get personal. I’ve only just recently come out as bisexual to my family and friends,” Purser wrote in a note online. “It’s something I am still processing and trying to understand and I don’t like talking about it too much. I’m very very new to the LGBT community."
She went on to explain that she’d never heard of “queerbaiting,” the term for when shows set up faux same-sex relationships to nab ratings but then fail to follow through with any real LGBT storyline.
The hubbub on Twitter began when Purser responded to a tweet from a young female fan bemoaning Riverdale’s missed opportunity for queer representation with the Betty and Veronica characters. “Riverdale had the chance to open doors and do something groundbreaking, something that would mean so much to so many young girls,” wrote one tweeter. When Purser responded with “And I get that, representation is so powerful and important. But we didn't write the show? We have literally no say in what happens,” fans took her to task for what appeared to be a lack of empathy or caring. That’s when she posted the following note:
— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 19, 2017
Purser's coming-out comes on the heels of a series of tweets she wrote earlier this month that hinted that she was grappling with being open about her sexuality.
Getting comfortable with your sexuality is a process. It's going to be ok. I wish I'd known that sooner," Purser wrote April 11. "Another thing I wish I'd known about sexuality is to take it slow. It can define you as much as you want it to. Either way, I know what it's like to have anxiety about it. Especially trying to come to terms with it and my faith. It can be really scary."