Love is Not Simple


Brianne Leber

My friend and I holding hands on a lazy Sunday morning.

Brianne Leber, Chief Editor

Last week, one of my fellow journalists mentioned how love is not the same as it used to be. The way we measure and define love has changed since Romeo and Juliet. This made me think a lot about how I perceive love and how I see it around me.

The first people I talked about love with was a coincidence. My book club decided to have a day where we discuss what queer love means to us. We all wrote pieces about our experiences with queer love.

My personal essay was a love letter to my friend. “My best friend was my first everything. First kiss, first date, first girlfriend, first break up, first make up,” I wrote. My ending line was simply, “I love her, in every way.” Contrary to popular belief, this was not an essay about romantic love. This was about the multiple facets and trust that exists within my friendship with this woman.

The other members of my book club wrote about similar experiences. We all decided that a defining part of queer love was how it is not confined to society’s preconceived notions of what different types of love look like.

During our meeting I said, “I kiss all of my queer friends. I wish I could tell you why.” We were frustrated because this type of intimacy with friends is frowned upon by the majority of people. For queer people, physical intimacy in friendship is comfortable and safe and warm. It is not necessarily romantic, in fact, it rarely is. Physical affection in the community is not easily boxed into a straight schema of friendship. I ended my speech with “Why would I say no homo when it is literally all homo?”

A few of my siblings and I on Autumn’s birthday. Autumn is on the counter. Caitlyn Roe is to her right. My brother, Christopher Deharo (not interviewed for this article) is to her left and I am to the left of him. (Brianne Leber)

The next people I reached out to were my three oldest siblings, Caitlyn Roe, Chris Roe, and Cate Leber. I was shocked by some of their answers.

Caitlyn and Chris are married and have been in a relationship for most of my life. Caitlyn says that for her “love is feeling safe and secure. Knowing that I am coming home to my partner and best friend every night is such a wonderful feeling. We long to experience life’s journeys together.”

Chris had similar thoughts. Chris says, “love should be easy, relationships are hard. Love should challenge you to achieve your goals, provided comfort when things don’t go right, and follow you on life’s adventures.” Now for anyone who doesn’t know Chris, you should know that he tries very hard to be prickly. What he said next was a little bit surprising but looking back, I should have known. He said, “love presents itself when you are ready, I don’t believe you can find it. Love requires trust which means both you and others need to be accepting and giving of that trust.” Talk about sweet!

Cate Leber became one of my sisters her senior year of high school and has a different take on love. Cate thinks “love grows when there is a connection between two people, whether it be platonic love, family love, or romantic love. It is a feeling of adoration, caring, and connection. It’s indescribable, and exists within someone without the need to be expressed.” When she was younger, Cate “believed love had to be proved. Growing up feeling so constantly unloved definitely made me want to make sure people I love always knew I loved them. I never want them to doubt it. But this led to a lot of self-betrayal. Now I believe love exists within a person. It doesn’t need to be proved. (I’m talking about all types of love here.)” She also pointed out that “someone can love you while maybe not being able to show up for you in the ways you need. That doesn’t mean they don’t love you, nor does it mean you are unworthy of love. People’s actions and behavior are the reflection of how they feel about themselves.” My favorite thing she said was “Everyone is whole and worthy of love exactly as they are. Love that’s meant for you will never make you betray yourself.”

Cate and Caitlyn holding family dogs, Tucker and Max. (Chris Roe)

My youngest sister, Autumn Leber, also decided to chime in when I originally told her about my article. She said, “Brie, you love a lot. You can find things to love in everything. I don’t feel like that. I need to find the worst in everything before I can love them. I don’t know if this makes sense but I don’t love often but when I love, I love a lot. Most of the times, I love based on how much I trust those things. We are very different, Faith.”

This prompted a conversation with family friend Debi Kane, who says, “People used to think that they would find their soul mate and they would complete me but now I think we have a much better understanding of self love. You have to be a whole person to come together with someone else and have a functioning love relationship.” She was expressing how we are all individuals; we don’t need a soulmate to complete us because we are already complete on our own.

Since I was a kid, I have been told that I love too hard, too fast, too much, too easily. I have been criticized for loving everything and everyone. People tell me that my love means less because I love so much. This continues to confuse me. My love does not exist in a bucket that I can empty out. Maybe I am young and naïve, but regardless, I will continue to love as I do.

I encourage the people reading this article to explore how they view love and ask the people around you. You never know what someone might say.