Sophia Bush at the 2024 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Sophia Bush Comes Out as Queer and the Discourse Is Too Much

Actor, activist, and podcast host Sophia Bush came out as queer yesterday in a deeply personal essay for Glamour Magazine, which has been met with celebration from many parts of the LGBTQIA+ community.

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However, her simultaneous confirmation of a romantic relationship with former professional soccer player Ashlyn Harris has resurfaced accusations of cheating that surfaced last fall, creating a truly divisive conversation. In her essay for Glamour, Bush explains how she considered calling off her wedding to her now ex-husband, entrepreneur Grant Hughes, in April of 2022, but instead “doubled down on being a model wife.”

A year later, during which she began fertility treatment and came down with an unrelated virus during a stage production in London, she began the process of divorcing him, which included moving back into her Los Angeles home and spending time with close friends, many of whom were going through their own separations, divorces, or struggles at home. Among those women was Harris, whom Bush met in 2019.

What happened between Sophia Bush, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger?

By 2023, Bush writes that Harris was “in the process of figuring out her own split from her wife,” fellow soccer player Ali Krieger, with whom Harris shares two young children. Harris and Krieger met while playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2010 and got married in 2019. After Harris and Bush were spotted together multiple times in October 2023, news broke that Harris had filed for divorce and the Internet immediately jumped on both Harris and Bush, painting a scandal into the gaps between headlines. Harris denied the cheating allegations in an Instagram post on November 18, noting that while she knows responding to online hate isn’t always recommended, the effect on her mental health was “devastating,” prompting her to speak up.

Meanwhile, Krieger made a post about being in her “Beyoncé Lemonade” era as her final season came to a close, which many outside observers took as confirmation that Harris cheated. Krieger later spoke about moving on in a January interview with E! News. Harris and Krieger have held the line about putting their kids first, leaving the rest of the drama to commenters who seem hyper-obsessed with the timeline of events.

Bush did not address rumors of her relationship with Harris or accusations that she was a “homewrecker” until her essay for Glamour. Bush writes, “I don’t know how else to say it other than: I didn’t see it until I saw it. And I think it’s very easy not to see something that’s been in front of your face for a long time when you’d never looked at it as an option and you had never been looked at as an option.” She continues, “It took me confronting a lot of things, what felt like countless sessions of therapy, and some prodding from loved ones, but eventually I asked Ashlyn to have a non-friend-group hang to talk about it.”

Following what she describes as “a sparkly moment I felt like maybe the universe had been conspiring for me,” she says the viciousness of the online rumor mill began to spin hard and fast, with little grace or understanding for how little the public sees of what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of celebrities.

“The ones who said I’d left my ex because I suddenly realized I wanted to be with women—my partners have known what I’m into for as long as I have (so that’s not it, y’all, sorry!),” Bush writes. “The idea that I left my marriage based on some hysterical rendezvous—that, to be crystal-clear, never happened—rather than having taken over a year to do the most soul crushing work of my life? Rather than realizing I had to be the most vulnerable I’ve ever been, on a public stage, despite being terrified to my core? It feels brutal. Just because I didn’t want to process my realizations in real time on social media and spell them out for the world doesn’t mean the journey wasn’t long and thoughtful and exhaustive.”

Why the Internet is divided about Sophia Bush coming out as queer

Since Bush became a household name as Brooke Davis on the CW drama One Tree Hill, which she now rewatches and talks about with her former co-stars Hilarie Burton and Joy Lenz on their weekly podcast Drama Queens, she’s also earned a name for herself as an LGBTQIA+ ally, feminist, and generally heartfelt person. Last fall, as commenters devoured each other arguing about the truth of Harris and Bush’s relationship and whether Krieger had any warning before she was served divorce papers, variations of the same comment kept cropping up. “Not like this, Sophia!” wrote one person in the comments of an Autostraddle Instagram post. “I hoped she was one of us but this ain’t it,” wrote another.

Growing emotionally attached to celebrities isn’t uncommon, especially in the age of social media. While parasocial relationships can be healthy if the fourth wall is maintained and fans understand that celebrities don’t reciprocate their feelings of familiarity or affection, more often than not, people get swept up in the fantasy of thinking they know more about people they follow through headlines and social media posts than they ever could. Additionally, fans often blur the line between fiction and real life, ascribing aspects of their favorite characters to the actors who play them. This has consequences. A recent example is when Heartstopper star Kit Connor felt forced to come out as bisexual when he was accused of queerbaiting after being seen holding hands with a woman. After months of speculation about her own sexuality, Bush has been put in the same position, which she discusses in her Glamour essay.

I’ve written before about how falling in love with Brooke Davis bestilled my little lesbian heart, especially after I met Bush on a tour stop as a painfully closeted 15-year-old in a tragic emo phase. I’ve followed her career closely not just because I developed an ardent adolescent crush on her, but because I think she’s incredibly talented and I respect a lot of her work as an activist. When the rumors started flying last fall, I was at turns elated and devastated, my thoughts and emotions a complex swarm. I don’t like cheaters. I also hated how everyone seemed content to speculate about one celebrity’s queerness while also casting her as the villain in another’s divorce story. I don’t think anyone who isn’t in Bush or Harris or Krieger’s inner circle will ever know the full truth of these events and, frankly, I don’t see the value in continuing to debate the topic where the people involved can read uninvited commentary and potentially internalize it to their detriment.

What I do know is that I woke up yesterday to a text from my best friend with a link to Bush’s Glamour essay and the caption, “sorry for your heart bestie I’m praying for u.” I also know that it’s Lesbian Visibility Week and I’m especially sensitive to queer joy. Learning that someone who played a pivotal role in my pre-social media queer journey now also identifies as queer feels a bit like a fever dream. Bush is 41 years old, making her a bit of a “late bloomer.” Seeing her talk about her journey—without revealing every detail, which we aren’t owed—is beautiful and wild and, yes, complicated. Real life usually is. The sooner we all remember that and take a step back, the better off we’ll be.

(featured image: David Livingston/Getty Images)


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Samantha Puc
Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and editor who has been working in digital and print media since 2010. Their work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture and their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.