Written by Lucy Sutcliffe for the Fall 2013 issue of FLURT Magazine.
I was seventeen when I first started to really come to terms with the fact that I could be gay. The thought terrified me – but for the first time, I felt able to accept that it was a possibility.
Kaelyn and I met on Tumblr, where I had followed her for a few months because we had a mutual love of Taylor Swift. I hadn’t known much about Kaelyn until she started posting that she felt like she was nearly ready to come out to her friends and family. This stood out to me as some sort of sign, because I, too, was coming to terms with my sexuality, and here was this gurl I hardly knew in the same situation as me. Without really thinking too much into it, I sent her an email simply explaining that I was in the same position as her and that I wished her the best of luck. A few hours later, she responded, and we haven’t stopped talking since.
We talked for hours every single day for thirteen months – first through email, then on the phone and then through Skype. The more we talked, the more I fell in love with everything about her. Her personality. Her intelligence. Her sense of humour. Her ability to make me smile just by talking. Thirteen months later I flew out to see her. She was at vet school in St. Kitts in the Caribbean at the time, and I lived in Oxford, UK. The trip could not have been any more perfect. We had the time of our lives – so when it was time for me to go, everything came crashing down around us. The reality of long distance slowly dawned on us as we said our teary goodbyes.
Saying goodbye to Kaelyn after our first trip was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It literally felt like I was saying goodbye to half – the better half – of myself. It was then that an idea struck me. I’m a film student, and I had taken my video camera along with me on our trip in St. Kitts. Once I was back home in England, I compiled together a short montage of all the little clips I had filmed, uploaded it to YouTube and sent Kaelyn the link as a surprise. She loved it and it cheered us right up – watching it helped reassure us that we would be reunited again soon.
Several months later and another reunion behind us, I woke up to find that one of our videos had suddenly gained about 3,000 views and several hundred comments. “This video saved my life,” one read. “I was going to kill myself tonight because I was so ashamed of my sexuality. Watching you gurls together, being so happy and strong, has helped me more than you’ll ever know.”
We were both shocked – we had never intended for other people to watch our videos. How could we have had that much impact on someone we didn’t even know – just by being ourselves? That evening, we talked about the situation and agreed that, if it meant we could help out those who were struggling, we should continue to post videos.
A year later, we have over 80,000 subscribers and over six million views. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that people watch us and look up to us, but it’s also a lot of pressure. We once received a letter from a very sweet ten year old, and she’d written on the back of the envelope, “if you two ever break up, I’ll never believe in love again!” It was obviously written with the best of intentions, but it scared us a little. What you see on YouTube is us in our purest – but it’s also not the only side of our relationship there is. On YouTube, everything is two-dimensional. Although, in our videos, we are strong, happy and determined to conquer the distance, that doesn’t mean that off camera we don’t struggle. We fight, cry, scream and get angry at each other just like every other couple. No one wants to see a YouTube video like that, of course, but we try our best to show people that we’re not perfect.
Being in a long distance relationship is tough. You have to train yourself to do things you’d never have dreamed of doing – like staying awake until three in the morning every night because she’s in a different time zone but you desperately want to see her face. Like writing long-winded emails and letters to each other because you want her to know you’re thinking of her, even though you can’t hold her hand. Like scouring the internet for plane ticket deals, and saving up money, not for new clothes, make-up or nights out – but for cheap seats on a flight.
You find yourselves fighting over things you’d never even dreamed of fighting about. Time differences, schedules, emotions, jobs, school, exams and outside commitments – sometimes, it feels like they’re put there to deliberately make things harder. One night, we had planned a Skype call and my Internet connection just wouldn’t work. It kept freezing and shutting down and I remember feeling completely and utterly defeated. I was convinced that the world was against me and that we were doomed to fail for this sole reason. I was, of course, being a drama queen, but at times it really can feel like there’s too much against you. This feeling always passes. The second I see her smiling face, with her big brown eyes and messy hair, and our cat, Alfie, purring at me through the laptop screen, I feel at peace with the world.
But along with the struggles, the tears and the ‘I miss you’s,’ there is a silver lining. Being apart from each other for so long allows us to see how precious our time really is. We’ve learnt to treasure every single second. It’s taught us to appreciate each other in more ways than one, and to look forward, not back, at the easier times we have ahead of us. It has taught us to be thankful for what we have – each other, and the family and friends that support us – and to be grateful.
We’re not always going to be long distance. Right now, the plan is to move to the US together and find jobs. Easier said than done for sure – but then, it hasn’t been easy with us from the start.
One thing is for sure, though – just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s not worth every step of the fight. Every step we take is a step closer to the finish line. Instead of cursing to the wind and complaining about our hardships, I thank my lucky stars every day that I found Kaelyn. Even though we’re separated by an ocean right now, that won’t always be the case. Next year could be our year. The idea of what we’re going to be, what we’re going to become when we finally conquer the distance, propels us both forwards. It’s the prospect of finally being able to fall asleep next to her without that dreaded feeling of ‘two more days left’ until one of us has to leave. It’s the idea of being able to hold her hand whenever I want, go out on dates whenever we want and snuggle up and watch TV whenever we want. It’s the future that’s keeping us going. And that’s enough for me.
Update: Kaelyn and Lucy finally beat the distance and currently live together in Arizona, USA.
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