Photo: Instagram [mariathattil]

Maria Thattil, who was crowned Miss Universe Australia in 2020, opened up about her sexuality and how those around her learned about it.

The 28-year-old shared the news with campmates on the 12 January episode of Australia’s version of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

“Growing up I always thought maybe a little bit bi-curious,” Maria told David Subritzky. “And only ever dated straight people, but growing up I did have crushes on girls that I went to school with. Even as I got older I thought I can like, appreciate an attractive woman and I’ve always been curious about that. I’m like, is it just curiosity? Like, no, no, no – it’s not.”

She added that she always “buried that side” of herself as it was “easier” to say she only dates men.

Taking to Instagram on 13 January after the episode aired, the model said she is “grateful” for the chance to share her story.

She wrote: “I’m grateful that I could model how to have a feared, big conversation in a gentle, simple way with no shame or stigma.

“I’m grateful for everyone who shared their own stories with me after last night and bloody proud of some who came out – on the spot – to family members after witnessing the convo.”

In an interview with WHO magazine, she explained that she was outed to friends because of being seen on a dating app with preferences set to being open to both men and women.

Maria explained: “I have dating apps and when I set my preferences to be both male and female, I got a message from a friend saying, ‘Someone just sent me a screenshot from your account and we think there is someone out there pretending to be you and catfishing people.’ Then I freaked out and changed it back to just being to men.”

In a separate interview with The Daily Telegraph, Maria shared that her sexuality is something she has “felt for a very long time.”

“I grew up having crushes on girls in school and just completely invalidated it because of religion and also because there were many homophobic sentiments in my school around being a lesbian, around anything other than heteronormativity,” she continued.

“You don’t have a lot of bisexual visibility in popular culture and so you don’t understand what it is.”