Shannon Purser Hopes Her Decision to Come Out as Bisexual Helps Kids 'Feel Less Alone'

Shannon Purser is opening up about her decision to come out as bisexual last year.

“I would love for us to get to a point in society where it doesn’t really matter what your sexuality is, but right now there is a lot of turmoil around that issue, a lot of controversy where there shouldn’t be,” the 21-year-old star of Netflix’s upcoming movie Sierra Burgess Is a Loser told PEOPLE at the premiere of the film in Hollywood on Thursday.

Although she went on to share that she doesn’t “consider myself the perfect role model,” she does “try to encourage young people and be somebody that they can look up to.

“I just always think about what would I have needed as a kid, what would have meant a lot to me?” she added. “If somebody can see me and feel less alone and more understood, than that’s it.”

The actress also revealed how much it’s meant to her to have fans contact her with messages about how she gave them the courage to open up about their own sexuality.

“That’s what matters most to me,” she remarked. “That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received.”

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After receiving backlash for a now-deleted Tweet directed to fans of the CW’s Archie reboot “shipping” two of the show’s main female characters, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, who locked lips in a previous episode, Purser wrote an emotional message about her sexuality.

“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,” the actress, who has also been featured on Stranger Things and Riverdale, wrote on Twitter.

“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,” she continued.

In reference to her previous tweet, Purser also included an apology to anyone who was offended by her words.

“I have never ever wanted to alienate anyone and my tweet was thoughtless,” she wrote. “I wasn’t referring to all the beronica shippers, just the ones who had been particularly cruel to me personally. Either way, it wasn’t a wise or kind thing to say and I’m disappointed in myself.”

Concluding, “I apologize to those who were hurt.”

Purser had previously admitted to her Twitter followers that she had anxiety about her sexuality, while sharing a message she wished she had learned earlier in her journey.

“I know what it’s like to have anxiety about it,” she wrote. “Especially trying to come to terms with it and my faith. It can be really scary… But it’s gonna be OK. You’re going to be OK. No, you’re going to be great.”

“Another thing I wish I’d known about sexuality is to take it slow,” she added. “It can define you as much as you want it to.”

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser will be available to stream on Netflix starting Sept. 7.

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