“I Googled ‘How do you know if you’re a lesbian?’ There had to be, like a quiz, right?” Lauren Morelli, 31 year old newlywed, TV writer, wrote about her real-life journey across the Kinsey scale from heterosexual to gay.
Orange is the New Black takes place inside a women’s prison. The lead character, Piper Chapman, is based on real life author, Piper Kerman. In her memoire, she tells the story of how she ended up spending a year in prison for dealing drugs.
However, her only real crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A bisexual, Piper was in a lesbian relationship with a dealer who got busted. She was brought in as an accessory.
The real Piper and the show Piper are both timid, well-heeled White Anglo Saxon Protestants and graduates of prestigious Smith College. She was shocked at first to find herself doing time with inmates named, Tastey, Pornstar, Poussey, Crazy Eyes and Delicious.
She was surrounded by tatooed black, Latino and “white trash” roomies. In the shower, other prisoners laughed about her perky little “tv titties” that “stand up on they own.”
The real and fictional Pipers were both engaged at the time of their imprisonment to a heterosexual male (played in the show by Jason Biggs). Eventually, however, he learns that Piper and her drug dealing girlfriend have met up again in prison. Lonely, Piper has turned to her ex for solace, and, eventually, lesbian sex. The wedding is called off.
On the subject of marriage, in TV writer Lauren Morelli’s real life, she was blissfully married, just got her first staff writing job for the Emmy-winning, critically-acclaimed, Netflix dramedy. Her husband was her soul mate. Her life was perfect. Until.
Until, as she wrote steamy sex scenes for Piper and her lesbian lover, she started to realize something about her was different. Writing the scenes turned her on. She began fantasizing about women.
The transition from heterosexual to gay proved excrutiating for the TV writer. She wrote that if being gay meant she’d lose her husband, the person she loved most in the world, she’d rather die. She admitted to being suicidal at first.
Slowly she warmed up to the idea. More and more, it felt right. Morelli talked with one of the gay actresses on the show, Samira Wiley, a beautiful black woman who plays Poussey Washington, an inmate on the show who’s in prison for stealing pot. They ended up dating.
Morelli’s sexual journey played out in front of the entire cast, crew and writing staff of the show. Now that she’s divorced and in a relationship with Wiley, she says she feels “liberated” with her new, more authentic relationship. When Morelli came out, she wrote that all this time she must have been higher on the “Kinsey scale” than she thought.
The Kinsey scale (based on the notion that sexuality is not fixed, but fluid) ranges from 0, for those who identify themselves as heterosexual, with no desire for same sex sexual activity, to 6, for those who identify as exclusively gay with no desire for sexual activity with the opposite sex. Apparently, Morelli was closer to a 3 or 4 (“bisexual” or “predominenly gay”) on the scale.
Kinsey’s research showed around 10% of women (and men) between 25 and 35 were bisexual during that period in their lives. Also, according to Kinsey, sexual preference can also be fluid throughout one’s life. A predominantly gay person can find themselves focusing on opposite-sex desires at a different point in their life and vice versa.
This explains how Morelli transitioned from being happily married to the man of her dreams, to falling in love with an actress, to being in a lesbian relationship, to coming out to all of her friends, her parents and the world. Although, that it happened in two months is rather surprising.
Finally, Morelli wrote that she viewed her story as messy, nuanced and a “constantly moving target.” Being gay is the last thing she could have predicted, but now that it’s happened, she’s grateful. And she encourages others to embrace their own narrative, whatever it may be.
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Image credit: Lover’s Twist – Kris Krug 2008 CC By 2.0