If you’re a fan of hit Netflix drama Orange is the New Black then you likely saw the OITNB story that made headlines everywhere last year.
No, not the headlines saying that season two was hilarious and brilliant (although it was, very much so) but that one of the show’s writers, Lauren Morelli, had discovered her sexuality whilst working on the show and so she divorced her husband and came out as gay instead.
With OITNB’s many queer pairings and the way that LGBT women are featured as real, relatable people instead of one dimensional tokens it was little surprise that the show had helped someone discover their identity.
Now, Morelli is making headlines for having spoken at the Crossroads women’s conference in Pittsburgh. The event, which took place on the 10th of March, aimed to empower and uplift women by featuring relatable speakers who can talk about their stories.
Morelli says that women often choose to go it alone and feel as though they are the only ones in the world with that problem but “the idea of focusing a conference on navigating a crossroads is so interesting, because it’s an idea that’s so universal. I learned so much about that the last couple of years and what a difference it can make to just tell your story, to start sharing it.”
Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls’ Foundation (one of the event’s sponsors) stresses that the Crossroads’ timing was intentional. The event took place slap bang in the middle of Women’s History Month (International Women’s Day was on March 8th), a month that has already been used to bring to light the inequalities that women in this world face.
“We have a wonderful leadership program called Girl Gov for young girls, and we wondered, ‘Why don’t we have something like this for women? This conference is set up for pretty much any woman to attend, because we’ll be focused on the ways personal and professional lives of women intersect.”
As part of that focus, the event addressed topics such as gender, sexuality and mental health as well as more business-like themes, for those looking to get ahead in their careers. Few conferences address this at all and so it’s no wonder that Tara Simmons, the Women and Girls’ Foundation’s vice president says that although “It’s a one-day conference” it’s certainly not just “a one-day thing”.