In a moving speech delivered on Saturday at the HRC North Carolina Gala, Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood emphasized the importance of queer visibility.
The 29-year-old singer and actress, who came out as bisexual in 2012, recalled the first time she heard the word "bisexual," an identity she would later come to embrace.
"A light bulb went off," she said at the Human Rights Campaign fundraiser, where she was honored with the LGBT group’s Visibility Award. "The word didn’t make me feel marginalized. It made me feel less crazy. It made me feel less alone. It gave me hope. An actress just said a word, but it made a world of difference in my life and in my identity."
She explained that learning to use her voice, despite being taught to stay silent, gave her hope. In a speech with quotations from civil rights leaders Audre Lorde and Nina Simone, Wood stressed the importance of artists using their voices to reflect the times.
"Because of the voices I listened to, because of the people I identified with, the films I had watched, the music I had heard—because of words like 'bisexual' and the doors that it opened — I’m still here,” she said. "And I didn’t miss out on the most beautiful thing I’ve seen yet… my son. Visibility creates hope."
Wood ended her speech by paraphrasing a powerful quote from E.E. Cummings: "To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting."
Watch the full speech, below.