'Eat, Pray, Love' Author Elizabeth Gilbert Is 'In Love' With Her Best Friend
I just love me some POSITIVE queer news, don't you?
I mean, with all the incessant, pressing hatred stewing around the stratosphere, it's a real treat to hear a story about love winning.
I love author Elizabeth Gilbert. I feverishly read "Eat, Pray, Love" when I was 22, and it inspired me to save all of my money for a year and relocate to Tanzania.
The Tanzania part didn't happen, but I did move to Europe with that money, and I have Gilbert's raw memoir of world travel to thank for that wild, life-changing adventure.
The author made me smile once again by announcing her non-platonic love for her best friend Rayya Elias (who is battling pancreatic and liver cancer), publicly on her Facebook page yesterday morning:
Many of you already know who Rayya Elias is to me. She's my best friend, yes, but it's always been bigger than that. She's my role model, my traveling companion, my most reliable source of light, my fortitude, my most trusted confidante. In short, she is my PERSON.
She went on to say that it was Elias's current health crisis that made her realize that her love for Elias cut deeper than just an intense friendship.
But something happened to my heart and mind in the days and weeks following Rayya's diagnosis. Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real, and in that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya. And I have no more time for denying that truth. The thought of someday sitting in a hospital room with her, holding her hand and watching her slide away, without ever having let her (or myself!) know the extent of my true feelings for her... well, that thought was unthinkable.
Disease is such a terrible, frightening force that sweeps into our lives when we least expect it.
It's dark, but the only source of light that can eradicate that darkness is love. Through this difficult time, Gilbert had a beautiful epiphany that the real love of her life is her best friend. And I think that's wonderful.
Sometimes, it takes these disastrous events to make us peel back the outer layers and see the truth.
So, why did Gilbert feel the need to go public about her newfound love?
Here's what it comes down to for me: I need to live my life in truth and transparency, even more than I need privacy, or good publicity, or prudence, or other people's approval or understanding or just about anything else. Truth and transparency not only make my life more ethical, but also easier. (Why easier? Because untruth is always complicating, and truth — no matter what the consequences — is always strangely simplifying.)
By being public about her feelings toward Elias, Gilbert is teaching all of us incredibly valuable lessons.
She's teaching us to not be ashamed of our sexuality, that it's OK for sexuality to be fluid, and that love transcends labels.
But most importantly, she's teaching us the freedom of honesty.
Living your life honestly — even if you're bestowed with nothing but disapproval and criticism — is a far more freeing existence than living a lie.