Lili Reinhart has explained why she waited to publicly come out as bisexual.

The 24-year-old actress, best known for her role as Betty Cooper on Riverdale, came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community earlier this year during Pride Month, telling fans that she identifies as a “proud bisexual woman”.

In a new interview with Jeffrey Masters for LGBTQ&A, a podcast produced by The Advocate magazine, Reinhart said she refrained from coming out as bisexual sooner because of the harmful stereotypes and assumptions that still surround the community.

“I’ve wanted people to know that I am bisexual, but I’ve never felt that there was a right time to do it,” she admitted. “I was afraid of coming out. I didn’t want people to tell me that I was lying to get attention or something. And so I just kept my mouth shut.

“I also I’ve told people in the past and they’ve told me, ‘Oh, it’s a phase.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, great, thanks.’ So that’s discouraging, obviously.”

Reinhart said she attempted to come out as “nonchalantly as possible” because she doesn’t consider a person’s sexuality to be a “big deal,” adding: “The way I look at the world right now, I’m like, ‘Isn’t everyone bisexual?’

“So I didn’t really feel like this was any breaking news by any means. And so to get the attention that I got was surprising to me. I wasn’t expecting it.”

Later, the star said she first experienced same-sex attraction in fifth grade – calling it an “interesting revelation” – and that she didn’t question her sexuality until she moved to LA at the age of 18 and felt a romantic connection with another woman.

“I really identified as straight. I didn’t really think about it other than that, until I was put in a position where I found myself really attracted to this one girl that I was hanging out with,” she added. “I’ve realized that it’s just part of me and I didn’t really stop to even think about it until a couple of years ago.”

Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper on Riverdale

When asked if she was afraid of being outed as bisexual before she was ready, Reinhart explained further: “Not necessarily. I think my biggest fear, to be honest, was people telling me that I was coming out for attention. That was my biggest fear. And I’m not necessarily sure why, but I think to me in my eyes, it became a fad for people. Coming out rubbed me the wrong way.

“Believe it or not — and I know I get myself in a lot of hot water sometimes by speaking up and being vocal about things — but I do not like to be the center of attention. And it’s ironic because I am a pretty open book. So I’m constantly balancing that. But I also don’t think that sexuality is something that needs to be super private. It’s not a secret. It’s not something that I was ever ashamed of.

“And I felt like in that moment, I wanted to show my full support for this community. And the fact that I belong to it, it was very freeing in that sense. It felt very much like, ‘Yeah, I’m here. I’ve been here the whole time. I am part of this.'”

You can listen to Lili Reinhart’s discussion with The Advocate on Apple Podcasts.