Shannon Purser, who plays Ethel on Riverdale and Barb on Stranger Things, has come out as bisexual. The announcement comes after Shannon received backlash over a comment she made in response to Riverdale fans accusing the show of queerbaiting.
In the first episode of Riverdale, two characters, Betty and Veronica, were involved in a kissing scene, sparking a desire among a segment the show's fanbase to see those two together in a relationship—a desire frequently referred to as "shipping."
As fans were shipping for a Beronica romance, the CW and its creators were apparently using that storyline simply to sell the show. This deception led to accusations of "queerbaiting"—where a show garners an audience by tricking fans into thinking that certain characters are gay who turn out to be straight. Shannon responded on Twitter to the shipping rumors, unaware of the "queerbaiting" claim that was also intertwined with the issue.
On Tuesday, Shannon posted a lengthy message on Twitter, coming out as bisexual and apologizing to the show's LGBT fans. "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," Shannon wrote. "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. I have never heard the term 'queerbaiting' in my life until today. That being said, I have never ever wanted to alienate anyone and my tweet was thoughtless."