Two Of Us: Ciara and Ashley
Together for two years and counting, Ciara Neal, 21, and Ashley Neal, 19, share their love in the bright spotlight of Tumblr.
How they met
Ciara: We met through a mutual friend. Ashley pretty much fell all over herself to get my attention. She kept “nonchalantly” sneaking peeks at me the entire time we hung out, but she couldn’t directly look me in the eyes. It was actually pretty cute.
On their sudden Tumblr fame
Ciara: Ashley has over 6,000 followers and I have around 4,000. I really love the variety of people I get to talk to. We receive messages every day. For me, the attention has had both positive and negative aspects to it. I feel there is a slight duty on my part to be there for people. I love giving advice, so when I get 15 messages from ladies and gents asking for help, I try my hardest to do what I can. I can’t tell you how many times I have received messages from our followers thanking me for just listening to them.
Ashley: I would call it an honor. I like being there for others; I don’t think it’s my job or that I have to force myself on people [by having a Tumblr presence]. I just like doing it, and it comes naturally
On coming out
Ciara: My mother basically “outed” me when I wasn’t quite ready. My mother and I had a lot of bad fights over this. I think she just didn’t know how to handle it, you know? She went through the whole cycle of saying it was a “phase” and that I never showed any signs of being a lesbian—because, “it’s like a sickness with symptoms!” Ultimately, it was the reason I had to move out.
Ashley: I do think it is very important to come out because when you’re keeping all that in or you’re in denial of it because you don’t want others to know, you just end up living a lie. It gets hard to keep that ‘lie’ going after a while, and it takes a lot out of you— emotionally and physically—to not just be yourself. Since I came out, my confidence has greatly increased. I started acting, dressing and doing things the way I wanted to do them. I started loving who I wanted. It’s made me a better person and I’m happier. I’m now at the point where I don’t really care what others think and it feels pretty good.
What makes their relationship work
Ashley: I guess what makes it work is just our pure, raw, natural love for each other. The feelings we have outweigh anything else. We are normal, just like every other couple. We fight, we laugh, we disagree, but at the end of the day we will always come back to each other because of that feeling we hold for on another.
How they get through hard times
Ciara: Listening. I feel like people don’t listen enough in relationships. You don’t always have to have the answers to the problems, but listening goes a long way. Empathizing. I try to put myself in her shoes during the tough times. And support. I back Ashley on any decision she makes. Ashley has Neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disease where her body grows tumors on her nerve endings. It has really been hard on her. She is in constant pain every day. I know I can’t make the pain go away, but I can be there at every doctor’s appointment and try to pick her up when she is feeling bad.
Ashley: I think in tough times there is nothing that we really need other than each other. We don’t even need to talk aloud about what is going on. We can just connect with each other emotionally and usually, just holding each other gets me through tough times. Just knowing I still have her could get me through anything.