'I Don't Want to Wait' Singer Paula Cole Was Inspired By the Younger Generation to Come Out as Bi (Exclusive)

"I wouldn't have said that 10 years ago," the singer-songwriter says

Two years ago, singer-songwriter Paula Cole came out as bisexual — and now, she says it was thanks to the fluidity and acceptance of younger generations that she felt comfortable doing so.

The “I Don’t Want to Wait” singer, 56, addresses her sexuality on her new song “Wildflower,” in which she sings of falling in love with a woman, and feeling trapped between two worlds.

For years she’s been a visiting scholar at the Berklee College of Music, and Cole tells PEOPLE that being around the younger generations, including her students and her children, inspired her to think differently about how she views herself.

"I’ve felt very connected to these [younger] generations. I was really proud of millennial women, the way they were pushing the #MeToo movement," she says. "It just has made for a better society, one that’s become this rich, explorative, fluid landscape to even take the time to consider, what is your identity?"

Related: How Singer Paula Cole Found Her 'Authentic' Self on New Album After Realizing 'Fear' Was Keeping Her 'Small' (Exclusive)

She continues: "As an Xer, we just didn’t do that. But I’m so grateful with the expansion of LGBTQIA+... I really appreciate that. That talked to me personally, being more public about, ‘I’m a bisexual human being.’ I wouldn’t have said that 10 years ago."

Cole says that being public about her sexuality wasn’t necessarily a weight off her shoulders, as she’s fiercely private. Still, she feels pride in having remained true to herself over the years, both in her personal life and in her music.

“I’m proud that I was always truthful [to who I was in my music], but to come out and say, ‘I am a…’ That actually feels hard,” she says.

<p>Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images</p> Paula Cole at the Grammy nominations in New York City in January 1998

Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Paula Cole at the Grammy nominations in New York City in January 1998

Cole is currently married to a man named David, and is mom to two stepchildren and daughter Sky, 22, whom she shares with her ex-husband.

The star says that a years-long hiatus in the early 2000s to raise Sky and give her career the reset it needed in turn helped her live a more authentic life on her own terms.

“That was absolutely the most important thing for me, to have my family and have a healthy personal life,” she says. “I have a wonderful marriage, wonderful human being I’ve been with for 17 years now. I have three adult kids who are finding their way in the world. I’m closer to my parents now. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

<p>Ebru Yildiz</p> Paula Cole

Ebru Yildiz

Paula Cole

In March, Cole released the album Lo, her first collection of original songs in nearly 10 years. She is currently on tour through October. 

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