Allison & Brooklyn- New Love
Allison Connelly (the cutie with the bob) is a close friend and sorority sister of Loveles' editor, Jocelyn. She and her girlfriend, Brooklyn (rocking the yellow plaid), have a beautiful and romantic story of coming out and coming together while working each day to make this world a better place. It was great to learn another story of love, hope, and joy.
Home: Knoxville, Tennessee
Work: I currently work for an AIDS service organization. Essentially, I help folks who are HIV positive or disproportionately affected by HIV and help them get connected to health insurance.
How do you identify? I generally identify as a gay woman, sometimes queer, but generally gay.
What is your favorite book? The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen, or Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Queer resource: Mary Lambert, especially “Dear One” and anything from her Bold album, and Tegan and Sara--so stereotypical!
Home: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Work: Right now, I work at a nonprofit that does low cost car loans for low-income students. I do a little bit of everything. I’m the shop manager.
How do you identify? I identify as bi-sexual, sometimes demi-sexual, meaning that I’m attracted to personalities and whatever comes along with that. And white, very white.
What is your favorite book? An Interrupted Life - The Diaries of Etty Hillesum
Queer resource: the poet Andrea Gibson. All of Andrea's poems are great. "I do" and "Your Life" are beautiful.
When do you first realize your identity?
Allison - The first time I really named my sexuality was when I met Brooklyn and we started hanging out. I was like, “Yeah, we’re friends but I also want to kiss her all the time and I think she’s a really pretty woman.” I think the strength of my attraction for her forced me to understand my sexuality. I will say, it was also something that was really scary for me. Feeling attracted to women was something different than what I had expected from myself.
Looking back on my life, I can see different points where I’ve been in love with different women before now. I think it’s really interesting that because of my Catholic Christian upbringing, I never named that in myself.
I remember talking to my therapist about it and saying, “Well, I don’t really know if I want to do this scary thing.” He told me, “Allison, even if you don’t date Brooklyn you’re always going to be gay. Now that you know this about yourself you can’t go back.” He had a pretty fair point. So I decided that if I was going to go through this, I would rather do it with Brooklyn.
Brooklyn - So, my little brother is gay. He came out my sophomore year of high school. It was great and I really supported him. At the time, I had boyfriends throughout high school. Later, I went to college and majored in Gender and Women Studies and ended up becoming really attracted to my roommate, but I didn’t have the words for it yet. (I know that being a Gender Studies major doesn’t make you gay. I know that.) So I was taking all these classes and I had the chance to redefine possibilities for myself.
My senior year of college, I had one friend who was also really coming to terms with herself and her sexuality. One day, she skyped me across the room and said, “Brooklyn, I’m bi, can you still support me?” And I was like “Of course!” So, she came out as bi-sexual, and then like everyone else in my life came out as bi, which made me really think about it for myself. We all helped each other really process through our sexuality together. Having friends who were gay helped me come out to myself.
Talk to me about coming out to your Roman Catholic families.
A - I had a lot of support from my immediate family, which I wasn’t sure I was going to have. My parents are still Catholic and still go to a Catholic church, and even though they had always been really supportive I really wasn’t sure how they would respond to me coming out. I told my siblings too, and they were really supportive. In the end, my parents were like, “It’s great that you’re happy and we support you.”
Coming out to my friends was a lot harder. A lot of my friends are religiously conservative and that really hurts a lot. I’m going to seminary next year. I understand God to be a source of justice. It’s hard for me to see my friends view God so differently. It was even harder to hear words of my faith used against me as I was in the process of coming out. A lot of my friends from college and high school were on some level of “I don’t support you at all,” to “love the sinner, hate the sin” to “this is unnatural.”
The hardest experience was one of my oldest closest friend outing me to another one of my oldest closest friends. It was an incredibly painful process. Since then, I’ve been really struggling to understand: “What does a friendship look like for me that is worthwhile? Do I need full acceptance of myself, my sexuality, and my partner in order for a friendship to be worthwhile?”
B - My coming out process relates back to my little brother. I was the first person in our family that he came out to. He was messaging his now husband, and he was like, “I think I really love this guy, Brooklyn. I’m gay.” And I was like, “Great!”
The funny thing was that I watched my parents affirm and support my brother, but coming out was actually really hard for me. Being bi-sexual felt like I couldn’t really name my experience. I knew that everyone would be really supportive of me, because they had been for my brother, but I also felt that because he was gay, I couldn’t also be gay. Every National Coming Out Day, my brother would ask, “Are you going to tell everyone yet?”
I kind of came out to my parents right before Allison and I started dating. I went home for a break and when I had to leave I said, “I have to go back now for a date.” And my family asked, “What’s his name?” And I said, “Mar…..garet?” When I started dating Allison, my parents visited and had lunch with us. They were great, like they have always been.
How did you two meet?
B - We were in the same volunteer program, but I did it a year before her. The program has a very strong alum community. Like, they discourage the word alum because it sounds like you’re no longer a part of the community. So one night I went to dinner at her house. I remember noticing her then and feeling very attracted to her, but that was it initially. I just noticed her.
A - And I felt like my only reaction to Brooklyn was through the eyes of how my housemate perceived her; Brooklyn was her supervisor. So, I was intimidated by her. I thought she was really cool and had power and authority. But then we continued to interact with each other throughout the year within community gatherings.
A - My suite held an election party and she was invited. Brooklyn actually says that’s when she decided we were going to date.
B - Well, yeah! I mean it’s very obvious, but she’s very clever and witty and I was really attracted to her. Plus, when I got there, one of our friends told me that Allison loved my style. So I was like, “She loves my style, she’s witty, and she’s gorgeous. Alright, this is happening.” I remember looking at her across the room and wishing she was looking at me, but obviously she wasn’t, because she had no idea.
Funny enough, earlier that day I stumbled across her FB status.
A - This is my favorite part of the story.
B - Well, she posted a status saying, “I’m voting because, reasons, reasons, reasons” but one of them was, “because I’m an ally to the LBGTQ community.” And I was like, ally, come on!” I was very disappointed. But then I came to the party and was still pretty determined that we were going to date. So after that, I reached out to her a few weeks later.
A - We hung out and got drinks and talked for like 3 hours. We talked about everything that night. After dinner, Brooklyn walked me home, which is 100% in the opposite direction of her house. When I got home and I was like, “Yeah, friends walk each other home, right?”
B - One night, we talked about A Series of Unfortunate Events coming out on Netflix and decided to watch it with each other. It was a perfect plan. We scheduled it for Tuesdays. So I was thinking, “Good, I get to see her every week and watch Netflix and … chill.” Every time we watched it, I would scoot closer to her or put my feet under her legs so I was close enough that it wasn’t suspicious, but also close enough that she could know I liked her.
A - It was during those times that I noticed how aware I was of her presence. I noticed where her body was. When I started thinking, “She’s into me,” I realized that I liked it when her body was close to mine. My first thought was, “Oh shit. She’s into me. I’m not gay. This is going to be really awkward.” But then, over time, I was like, “I really hope she’s into me,” and everything shifted.
That sounds like a confusing place to be, Allison!
A - Yeah! I was so confused. I wanted her to like me, but I didn’t want her to think I liked her. I also wanted her to think it was a date and make the first move so I didn’t have to. One night we went to a reproductive rights fundraiser and that’s when I realized I kind of wanted to date her. All week leading up to that night, I remember saying to different friends, “I don’t know what to do. I just want to kiss her all the time.” And one of my friends was like, “Uh, I think you do know what you want to do.”
B - That time made me feel like I was in high school again. Everything felt completely new; I had never been into a woman like that before. I just kept calling my friends really excited to say stuff like, “And then we held hands on the bus ride back home!”
A - At the fundraiser, she put her arm around my waist and I thought, “Yeah. We’re on the same page! This is a date.” But then after it, when she walked me home, I invited her inside but she no.
B - I was in a weird thing. Not seeing someone else, but hanging out with someone else. This whole time I secretly wanted to date Allison, but she was also just an ally. So when we were holding hands on the bus ride back I was like, “Yes, but also shit shit shit.” I need to figure everything out and clear the air first with the other person.
What happened next?
A - This is great! So I went upstairs to my apartment and my roommate asked, “Where is Brooklyn? All of her stuff is still here. I went back down, without it, and was like, “Oh hey, you have to come up to our apartment because all of your stuff is up here.”
B - She said those exact words: “You have to come up.” I never realized until right now that she could have brought down my stuff.
A - Oh. Absolutely! I made you come up. And then out of nowhere on this really busy random street, I kissed her.
Wait, you kissed her?
A - Yeah. It just happened really fast. We were both there and I really wanted it to happen so I kissed her and then she was into me.
B - Ha! Just like that!? She kissed me, then I was into her. It’s actually great that she made the first move. I wouldn’t have. If I knew she was questioning I wouldn’t have wanted to complicate everything for her.
A - But that night everything made sense. I knew I wanted to date her and I felt good about that feeling and here we are almost a year later.
What are your hopes for the future?
A - Well, I’m moving for schoo.l I’m going to Union Seminary in New York next year.
B - The plan is that we’re going to move to New York together and live in a very tiny studio apartment! I just need to find a job up there before we go.
A - She will. I’ve already started working on her resume!
Do you have any coming out advice?
A – For me, what was helpful was having friends who were already out. I don’t think I would have been able to come out without that. It was also especially helpful to have spiritual people in my life who identified as LBGTQ. Having a few people working in ministry in the Jewish or Christian community was really important for me.