This short season of The Real Housewives of Orange County has come to a close.
Season 15 was an experiment, chronicling the lives of the cast amidst the pandemic and after a dramatic shakeup.
Braunwyn Windham-Burke had one of this season’s most extraordinary journeys.
As you can see in this powerful clip, she finished the season by declaring herself to be a "big ol’ lesbian." Good for her!
"Braunwyn is six months sober," Emily declared as the ladies concluded the season.
"That’s incredible," she accurately commented.
Braunwyn has been an alcoholic since she was in her early teens, something that she has only recently confronted.
"I am on a journey of sobriety," Braunwyn noted to the camera during her confessional and voiceover.
"I am redefining my marriage" to Sean Burke, she continued.
Braunwyn then added: "I am finding myself." After more than two decades of using alcohol to self-medicate, that is no exaggeration.
Knowing what announcement is coming, the producer then asks from behind the camera: "The true Braunwyn is … ?"
"Braunwyn is an amazing mom," she affirmed. "A good friend."
"And," Braunwyn continued, raising her voice with excitement: "SHE IS A BIG OL’ LESBIAN!"
"I like women," Braunwyn repeated, in case lesbian went over some people’s heads somehow.
"And it’s beautiful," she affirmed. Unlike her children, Braunwyn did not grow up in a home and a place where she could have felt as confident and secure in her sexuality.
"This is the real me," Braunwyn emphasized. And she is absolutely right.
Back on the beach, Braunwyn had another announcement for her castmates as the sun edged lower over the horizon.
"I start school on Monday," she declared, referring to returning to college.
But there was still more to reveal, as each of the Housewives was accompanied by a title card — as if at the end of a quasi-documentary film from the ’80s or ’90s.
"Braunwyn celebrated one year of sobriety with new, 29-year-old girlfriend, Kris," the card began.
"And while she and Shari no longer speak …" the card continued.
The card concluded: "Sean is still standing by his wife’s side."
Shari, of course, was Braunwyn’s possibly-too-close friend who had moved in with her and with Sean.
There were problems in her marriage that partially resulted from this close bond, though Braunwyn confirmed that she and Shari were not having sex.
Now, of course, Braunwyn has her girlfriend, Kris, but remains committed to co-parenting her many children with husband Sean.
Braunwyn had avoided questions about her sexuality, even continuing to identify as "straight" after sex with multiple women, for years.
While everyone has a right to define their sexuality as they wish, sexual history notwithstanding, Braunwyn had avoided any LGBTQ+ labels due to alcoholism.
When you begin drinking heavily to self-medicate before you’re old enough to drive, you miss out on a lot of introspection and self-discovery that people do during their teens and twenties.
Some questioned how Braunwyn, alcoholic or not, could have married a man and had children with her and still be a lesbian, rather than using a label like bisexual, pansexual, etc.
The reality is that many members of the LGBTQ+ community, because we all grow up in a society that expects everyone to be cisgender and heterosexual by default, end up going along with social expectations.
Nothing — not other people’s opinions or Braunwyn’s personal history — can erase her identity. And again, only she gets to choose her own label.