Lauren Morelli, a writer on both seasons of Orange Is the New Black (Season Two coming to Netflix June 6) penned an honest, eye-opening piece over on PolicyMic about how she realized that she was a gay woman while writing scenes for the critically acclaimed show. The only problem? Morelli was married to a man at the time. In fact, she had only gotten married a few months prior, after a six year courtship, during which her new husband had battled a life-threatening illness.
Five months into her marriage, Morelli headed to New York to start production on Orange, which was her first professional writing gig. There, she writes, her life “fell into a parallel rhythm with Piper’s story in a way that went from interesting to terrifying in a matter of months.” The whole thing is really worth a read, but here are a few interesting excerpts:
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.
On when Morelli finally realized she was gay:
I realized I was gay in fall 2012, one of my first days on the set. 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.” 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?
But on set, these small moments came into sharp relief, and I found myself answering to an endless stream of cast members who peppered me with questions like a gaggle of kindergartners curious about their new teacher. “Are you dating anyone?” “You’re married?” “To a man?” “But you used to kiss girls?” “Do you miss it?”
I was finally forced to consider a question that had never, ever occurred to me before: Holy sh*t, am I gay?
On how she got through it:
I won’t spoil anything for you, but I am tremendously proud of my own contributions to season 2 of Orange is the New Black. It was in the writers’ room that I came into myself, surrounded by unconditional love and teasing when I needed it (like when I was so depressed that I wore a hoodie and a baseball cap for too many days in a row and someone asked me if I was trying to be an undercover cop).
I went through it all on set: I fell in love with a woman, and I watched my life play out on screen. And now, as we are gearing up for the release of season 2, it feels liberating and appropriate to live my life in front of you.
I was fascinated by Morelli’s story, so much so that I totally stalked her Instagram and I think that the mystery woman on set might actually be Samira Wiley, who plays the inmate Poussey on the show. Whether or not they’re together, I hope she’s found what she’s looking for, and wish her all the best.