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The oldest of seven children, Morgan Tyler Haley grew up in a small southern town in a very sheltered, conservative, religious home. Homeschooled for most of her childhood, she was taught that homosexuality was forbidden.
Her hometown had its beauty though. Its wide open fields of tall grasses made for awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets. Its tight-knit community made it easy to meet folks and find mutual acquaintances.
But apart from the queer folks who worked at the local coffee and thrift shops, she saw very little LGBTQ representation growing up. Her world seemed so small that, at times, it felt like a bubble.
As she became more aware of her own queer identity, she wondered whether she was normal and whether she’d ever be able to live as her true self in a society that viewed heterosexuality as the only acceptable norm.
Luckily, she had the internet. On Instagram and YouTube, she saw the coming out stories of other people who lived in small towns and cities around the globe. It made her feel less alone. Their videos expanded her worldview and made her realize that queer folks existed everywhere. They also helped her see coming out as a normal thing, part of a fulfilling life that could be her own.
“[These videos were] one of my saving graces and what helped me feel more ‘normal’ throughout this process,” Haley says. “It made me feel less alone and gave me a boost of bravery to live my own authentic life.”
Her conservative upbringing compelled her to come out when she was older. But when she started sharing her own life through social media online, she began forming a supportive circle of friends. These friends came to be her chosen family and eventually led her to meet the person who’d become her now-fiancée.
“Everyone needs a support system,” she says. “I don’t even know where we’d be without them… I never even dreamt that the life I have now was an option for me.”
Haley has continued sharing images from her relationship and yoga practice online with the hope of giving others a sense of community and some bravery on their own personal journeys.
“It is vital that we continue to educate ourselves and amplify queer voices,” Haley says. “I think one of the bravest things any of us can do is continue to share our stories. Our lived experiences.”
“The fact that we each have a story to share builds common ground beneath all of us and creates a space to connect that might have not been there otherwise.”
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