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How Orange Is the New Black Helped Show Writer Lauren Morelli Realize She's Gay

How Orange Is the New Black Helped Writer Lauren Morelli Realize She's Gay

How Orange Is the New Black Helped Writer Lauren Morelli Realize She's Gay

An Orange is the New Black writer got more than just a job when she started working on the hit series - she got a coming out story.


We’ve certainly heard Lauren Morelli’s words before. As a writer on Orange is the New Black, she’s provided some of our favorite quotables, such as “"I heart you? Is that like 'I love you' for pussies?" But yesterday she took a personal turn in an essay on to discuss how Orange Is the New Black changed her life entirely; by making her realize she’s a lesbian. Lauren, who had been married to her former husband for months before starting the job, found 30 years of what she’d always believed about herself challenged by what was at first speculation then realization, and her journey is personal, inspirational, and courageously honest, she wrote in the piece. 

“As we started to shape our characters and debate fictional Piper's "true" sexuality that first season, we engaged in long discussions about sex, gender and our own experiences. I eagerly shared details of innocent, "above-the-waist" flirtations with girls when I'd been younger. I'd even excitedly blurted out, "I would totally sleep with her," about an actress who had auditioned for Alex (now played brilliantly by Laura Prepon, who shares the role with a pair of glasses). I went to therapy that night and casually mentioned that perhaps I was higher on the Kinsey Scale than I previously thought.”

Of course, with an extremely gay/gay-friendly cast and crew like that of Orange is the New Black surrounding you, the environment can really be nothing but supportive. But even the most accepting worlds can still fail to provide total comfort during such a moment of life-changing revelation. In her essay, Lauren openly admits to thoughts of depression and even suicide.

“It feels important to say these things in a public way, to record them where they are easily accessible because if I could think and feel them while working in the world's most supportive environment, surrounded by people in the LGBT community, where being a minority of any sort is joyfully celebrated, I can only venture to imagine the pain, confusion and fear that might have existed otherwise.”

Lauren’s coming out story has a happy ending, and has even provided Orange is the New Black’s upcoming season with a refreshing personal touch. Now having come full circle, it’s exciting to see just how much her life has changed for the better. She wrote: 

“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. I am now out to my family, my friends and most of my co-workers on Orange (and now to you, dear reader). Now, when I am in the writers' room or on set, I no longer feel like I am stuck in the middle of two truths. I belong because my own narrative fits in alongside the fictional stories that we are telling on the show: stories of people finding themselves, of difficult paths and of redemption.”

With an arc nearly as complex as the show is, we can’t wait to see what Lauren’s experience brings to the table not only within her writing on the series, but also in her everyday life. Click here for Lauren’s full essay and make sure to follow her on twitter at @lomorelli. And don’t forget (as if you could) that the second season Orange is the New Black returns to N etflix June 6th. Time to get the cellblock party started!

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Preston Max Allen