Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling book Eat Pray Love, has come out as being “in love” with a woman, her best friend Raya Elias.
Gilbert opened up about her relationship with Elias in an emotional Facebook post she shared on Wednesday.
Gilbert explained that while she has often been public about her love for Elias as a friend, it was Elias’ recent cancer diagnosis that led her to realize she was in love with the woman whom was already such a big part of her life.
This spring, I received news that would change my life forever. My best friend Rayya Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer — a disease for which there is no cure.
In the moment I first learned of Rayya’s diagnosis, a trap door opened at the bottom of my heart (a trap door I didn’t even know was there) and my entire existence fell straight through that door. From that moment forward, everything became about HER. I cancelled everything in my life that could be cancelled, and I went straight to her side, where I have been ever since. […]
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. […]
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.
Here is the thing about truth: Once you see it, you cannot un-see it. So that truth, once it came to my heart’s attention, could not be ignored.
Gilbert also explained that her realizing she was in love with Elias led to the end of her marriage:
For those of you who are doing the math here, and who are wondering if this situation is why my marriage came to an end this spring, the simple answer is yes. (Please understand that I cannot say anything more about it than that. I trust you are all sensitive enough to understand how difficult this has been. As David Foster Wallace once wrote: “The truth will set you free — but not until it’s had its way with you.” Yes, it has been hard. Yes, the truth has had its way with us. And yes, the truth still stands.)
So. Here is where we stand now: Rayya and I are together. I love her, and she loves me. I’m walking through this cancer journey with her, not only as her friend, but as her partner. I am exactly where I need to be — the only place I can be.
As to why she decided to open up about her love for Elias, Gilbert said, “for better or worse — I am someone who lives her life in the public eye.” She made clear that the pair wanted to share their relationship in public, saying, “We will not be wasting a moment of our time together, for as much time as we are given.”
Truth was the ultimate motivating factor in Gilbert’s decision, she said:
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.
Ultimately, Gilbert says she and Elias decided to come out “for the sake of our own integrity, but it’s also intended to make our lives simpler.”
Read Gilbert’s post in its entirety, below.