Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Eat, Pray, Love a Woman: Elizabeth Gilbert Does!

elizabeth-gilbert-and-rayya-elias

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert, 47, best known for her book Eat, Pray, Love, announced on her Facebook page today that she is in love with out author Rayya Elias, who has been her best friend and is now terminally ill.

Gilbert explained that her love became apparent when she learned Elias had been diagnosed with incurable liver and pancreatic cancer.

"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," Gilbert wrote. "I canceled everything in my life that could be canceled, and I went straight to her side, where I have been ever since."

Elias is a Syrian-American lesbian, author of the memoir Harley Loco, to which Gilbert penned an introduction. 

"Many of you already know who Rayya Elias is to me," Gilbert wrote, "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."

Gilbert wrote that her feelings for Elias were cause for the end of her marriage to José Nunes, a Brazilian importer she met during her travels chronicled in Eat, Pray, Love.

Though Gilbert did not identify explicitly as lesbian or bisexual in her letter to fans, it still reads as one of the most moving coming-out letters in recent memory. 

"Here is where we stand now," Gilbert wrote, "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."

Gilbert, who has long supported LGBT rights, explained that she decided to make her relationship with Elias public because she didn't want to live in secrecy. 

"I need to be able to walk into any room in the world with Rayya on my arm, feeling relaxed enough to stand comfortably in simple openness about who we actually are to each other," she wrote. "Sure, I could pretend that Rayya is still just my best friend, but that would be … you know ... pretending. Pretending is demeaning, and it makes you weak and confused, and it's also a lot of work. I don't do that kind of work anymore."

The women plan to spend as much time as possible together before Elias's death. "Trust me: We will not be wasting a moment of our time together, for as much time as we are given," Gilbert wrote.  

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