Sometimes it’s hard enough to have one thing that sets you apart from your peers, let alone having two things that make you different. At the age of 21, two major life events occurred: I became chronically ill with gastroparesis (and a whole list of other illnesses as well) and I came out to my friends, family, and strangers as lesbian.
When I became ill, I realized there wasn’t much in my life I could control. My body was dictating my days and it was difficult to come to terms with my new limitations. In the midst of the chaos of life with a chronic illness, I became aware there was still one thing I had control over: my own happiness.
Being true to myself brought me happiness; the ability to openly love brought me happiness. But in order to gain my happiness, I had to be willing to lose as well.
I knew the risks of coming out. Luckily my family was supportive and for the most part my friends were too, but in the spoonie community I found myself hesitant to let people in. The chronic illness community is made up of so many diverse people with different viewpoints and beliefs, and I knew not everyone would be accepting. It’s a sad feeling knowing that the friends you’ve bonded with over something as personal as a chronic illness could look at you differently once they know you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I concluded that if someone cannot love me unconditionally, no asterisks included, I do not want them in my life. This lead to a conscious decision to remove certain fellow chronic illness warriors from my life.
I’m lucky to be secure in who I am, I know not everyone is. Being so open with my journey has given me the gift of being a confidant to many other spoonies who are discovering they aren’t straight or cis. This honor is something I take extremely seriously and I’ve made it my mission to bring intersectionality and inclusion to the chronic illness/disabled community. I advocate for LGBTQ+ members to be included and accepted because no one should feel ousted by a group where they are supposed to receive love and support.
I am ecstatic to be a Sick Chicks Ambassador. I hope to be safe haven for my fellow LGBTQ+ spoonies and an educator to our chronically ill allies.
Carolanne is a 25-year-old activist who is heavily politically involved regarding social equality and change. Follow her on Instagram at @carolannemaria and on Twitter at @carolannemm