In fall of 2012, Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli was miserable. She had no interest in sex with her husband, and things got so bad she was having suicidal thoughts. It was during those first days writing for the show — scenes involving Alex and Piper, specifically — that she realized she was gay. Once she embraced her identity, she faced the difficult decision of divorcing her husband. But, the story has a happy ending: Morelli is now dating Samira Wiley, the actress who plays Poussey on the hit Netflix show.
To share her experience, Morelli penned an essay for Mic, in which she details how she came to understand herself.
"In Piper and Alex, I found a mouthpiece for my own desires and a glimmer of what my future could look like," she writes. "It wasn't so much one thing, but the sum of many small details: How uncomfortable I felt around groups of lesbians or how I considered myself (shrug) a 'not very sexual person.'"
It was her lack of interest in sex with her husband that raised a flag for Morelli. She floated the idea that maybe it was her birth control lowering her libido. But, her therapist wasn't buying it.
"When considered alone, these seemed like little quirks that made me me. Wanting to read a book instead of have sex is a perfectly reasonable preference to have, right?"
Like any modern-day human, Morelli took to Google to reconcile her thoughts. Her searches included "How do you know if you're a lesbian?" Cast members began asking about her personal life — her marriage, how she used to kiss girls.
"I was finally forced to consider a question that had never, ever occurred to me before: Holy shit, am I gay?"
As Morelli writes, her job made it impossible to ignore what she was feeling. "The sound stage for Orange, where we proudly employ what has to be at least 64% of lesbians in the New York City metro area, is not a place where you can shy away from women or sexuality," she writes.
The only thing more beautiful than Morelli's coming out story is her relationship with Wiley. Just look at those two:
You can read Morelli's full essay on Mic.