There’s a trend on TikTok where fans of the “The Twilight Saga” movie franchise will piece together montages of Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan and affectionately profess “my gay awakening” in the caption.
Now, the Oscar-nominated actor, who famously came out as queer on “Saturday Night Live” in 2017, has seemingly confirmed what many fans of the big-screen adaptations knew all along: that the films and their pale-skinned and furry characters are queer coded.
“I can only see it now,” Stewart told Variety in a recent interview, reflecting on her time with the five-film franchise, which released its first movie in 2008. “I don’t think it necessarily started off that way, but I also think that the fact that I was there at all, it was percolating. It’s such a gay movie. I mean, Jesus Christ, [co-stars] Taylor [Lautner] and Rob [Pattinson] and me, and it’s so hidden and not OK.
“I mean, a Mormon woman wrote this book,” she continued, referring to Stephenie Meyer, the author of the five-novel series that the movies are based on. “It’s all about oppression, about wanting what’s going to destroy you. That’s a very Gothic, gay inclination that I love.”
Meyer has yet to publicly weigh in on the interpretations of her work and did not immediately respond Friday to The Times’ request for comment.
Stewart’s take has been met with excitement, primarily because it’s a major told-you-so moment for fans who have existed in the “Twilight” subculture’s queer online spaces for years.
“The fact that our queen, our icon has weighed in on what we all know and love to be true,” exclaimed Sarah Gallagher, whose viral TikToks analyze the film series. “Theres nothing about this movie that isn’t gay and id like to [hear] from the rest of the cast.”
As early as 2021, film TikToker cinemegan even did a deadpan, three-part video series titled “why i think twilight is a gay movie.” In it, she assembled an entire PowerPoint presentation — organized by a 10-part table of contents — and dissected Bella’s wardrobe, rating each of her costumes “by how gay they are.”
For some fans, celebrating “Twilight” for its queerness was a more gradual journey. TikToker Multirose96 admitted that at first she reviled Stewart’s Bella for her socially awkward tendencies, but after processing her “internalized misogyny” she admired the outspoken star, and posted a bunch of Stewart thirst traps to show for it.
Also embracing the franchise’s queerness as an adult was TikToker g.aill, who threw her friend a “Twilight”-themed party for her 22nd birthday, decorated with a collage of moody photos featuring Stewart’s Bella, Lautner’s Jacob Black, Pattinson’s Edward Cullen and his onscreen cousin, Alice Cullen, played by Ashley Greene.
“Kristen stewart was my gay awakening,” she captioned the video that shows her posing in a party hat with her friend in front of their collage.
Stewart, 33, has been in the public eye since she starred alongside Jodie Foster in the 2002 thriller “Panic Room.” Ahead of her “SNL” appearance, she rejected rampant speculation and rumors about her sexuality, but has since embraced being a queer role model, she told Variety. And her other onscreen roles, aside from “Twilight,” have been praised for their contributions to queer cinema.
Her 2020 film “Happiest Season” was heralded as the first lesbian holiday rom-com released by a major studio. Stewart was joined in the production by other well-known LGBTQ+ actors in supporting roles and the film was directed by Clea DuVall, an out filmmaker.
The Times called the Hulu film, which skipped a theatrical release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “revolutionary for putting a queer couple at the center of a mainstream genre that is synonymous with heteronormativity.”
Meanwhile, Stewart’s upcoming queer romance thriller “Love Lies Bleeding” is set to premiere at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival later this month. She is also set to play queer feminist icon and writer Susan Sontag in an upcoming biopic directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Kirsten Johnson.