2017 Couples We Love, Part 1

GO’s annual celebration of inspiring partnerships in love and life. Check the April issue for Part 2.

 

Rayya Elias and Elizabeth Gilbert | Photo: Simon A. MacArthur

RAYYA & ELIZABETH – New York, NY
Rayya Elias, Writer, filmmaker, musician and hairdresser
Elizabeth Gilbert, Writer

Seventeen years ago, Elizabeth went to Rayya for a haircut.

“From there, it was a slow ascent into friendship, and then best friendship, and then—finally, just last year—we became dearly beloveds,” the “very happily not married” couple said of their courtship.

Best known for her work as a writer, Elizabeth (or “Liz,” as Rayya affectionately refers to her) is a household name after her memoir “Eat Pray Love” became a massive success and subsequent film. Rayya is also an accomplished writer, and the commonalities the two shared were helpful in their move from “almost two decades of the deepest foundational friendship you could ever imagine” to a romantic partnership.

“Our biggest challenge was finally finding our way to each other as lovers,” Elizabeth said. “[It] took a long a time. Then Rayya was diagnosed with cancer, and that did it. There was no more time to waste. The truth had to be spoken at last.”

Rayya’s diagnosis spawned Elizabeth’s public coming out on her Facebook, sharing with more than 1.6 million fans that the love of her life was going through something excruciating, and keeping it a secret was going to not only be difficult, but unimaginable for the forthcoming and prolific confessional writer.

“I love and revere the way Rayya always manages to tell the truth to people, without hurting them in the process,” Elizabeth said. “It’s an astonishing talent of the heart.”

“I love Liz’s light and her sensitivity,” Rayya said of her partner, “and her passion for magic.”

As for future plans, Elizabeth and Rayya are enjoying every moment they have, hoping that their days won’t be cut short.

“Just please give us more time together,” the couple said. “We’ll do the rest.”