Three years after she surprised the world with her dramatic stylistic reinvention, Miley Cyrus has opened up about her journey to discovering her pansexuality and her role within the LGBTQ community in a new interview with Variety.

The 23 year old former Disney star and current coach on ‘The Voice’ was named as one of Variety’s Power of Women cover stars in its latest issue, and revealed that she struggled for many years with her sexuality.

“My whole life, I didn't understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word 'bisexual,' because that's even putting me in a box. I don't ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl,” she explained.

Miley CyrusMiley Cyrus opened up about her pansexuality

“Also, my nipple pasties and s*** never felt sexualized to me. My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick. I grew up in a very religious Southern family.”

She’s now engaged to Liam Hemsworth, having reunited at the start of 2016 after breaking up with him in late 2013 shortly after her drastic image overhaul.

“The universe has always given me the power to know I'll be okay,” she adds. “Even at that time, when my parents didn't understand, I just felt that one day they are going to understand.”

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The main revelation in her life, that she is pansexual, came with a visit to the LGBTQ center in Los Angeles.

“I saw one human in particular who didn't identify as male or female. Looking at them, they were both: beautiful and sexy and tough but vulnerable and feminine but masculine. And I related to that person more than I related to anyone in my life,” she explained.

“Even though I may seem very different, people may not see me as neutral as I feel. But I feel very neutral. I think that was the first gender-neutral person I'd ever met. Once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more. I was like, 'Oh - that's why I don't feel straight and I don't feel gay. It's because I'm not.'”

“My empowerment comes from feeling like I have a purpose now. On my tombstone, I didn't want the 'Wrecking Ball' lyrics. I wanted it to be something greater. I'm the only f***ing Disney star who would say I'm pro lesbian and gay, before it was OK to say that,” she says.

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