I just read the story of a writer for Orange Is The New Black who discovered she was gay while working on set, and I can’t decide whether I want to cry or clap, so I guess I’ll do both. It’s that good.
Her name is Lauren Morelli, and when she showed up to work on the show’s first season in Fall 2012, she’d been married about five months. To a man, naturally. Because why would this be any easier than it had to be? She was thirty-one years old at the time, and had lived in ‘extremely liberal cities’ for thirteen years of her life, experience that prepared her to work with almost exclusively lesbians in the writers’ room with absolutely no issues. She just had never questioned the fact that she might be one of them, having recently checked off two of the major boxes required for a happy life — getting married and working at your dream job.
Up until this point in her life, she had just accepted that she wasn’t that sexual of a person, and that it was natural to feel uncomfortable around groups of lesbians. But as she watched the filming of a scene she had written — the one where Larry has that phone call with Piper where everything finally breaks down:
“[It was] a scene where both characters are finally forced to be honest after months of lying to each other. It was a scene I’d written with words shamelessly borrowed from my own life, and as I watched Jason Biggs repeat “I don’t know if you can,” after Piper begs him to let her fix her mistakes, the world around me swirled in a dizzying blur of life imitating art. Or vice versa — it’s hard to say sometimes.”
Allowing the characters begin to be honest with each other opened up the possibility that she could be honest with herself and her loved ones, as terrifying as that might be. And her description of discovering an entire new identity for herself after three decades of feeling like she knew herself is one of the most poignant, accessible, heart-breaking things I’ve ever read:
“[I] Wanted to die. If being gay meant losing the person I loved most in the world, if it meant coming out to my parents and tearing open the most vulnerable, soft parts of myself and showing them to everyone I knew, I would rather be dead.”
But even as she grappled with losing parts of her life that she’d felt were immovable, she also felt a sense of relief to realize that she was gaining parts, too. In particular a warm, welcoming force in the LGBT community:
“Mourning the end of my marriage and the identity that I’d known for my entire life, I hadn’t yet stopped to consider that I was now a part of this community. I’d been qualifying my own gayness as if it somehow counted less or might be judged if I embraced it fully. After lugging around a basket full of shame and guilt for the last year, there was a lightness that came with realizing that I could choose to replace my negative framing with honesty and grace.”
Yes girl. YES. Such an incredible story, so brave of her to share it, and how great that it has a happy ending. OINTB is just out there doing god’s work!
(Photo: Policy Mic)