Kelly DiPaola told her closest friends she was gay when she was 21 years old, but three years later she still couldn't find the right words to tell her family.
She explained to BuzzFeed in her own words:
Over that time I dated, fell in love, fell out of love, had my heart broken and recovered. I graduated from college, gained a brother-in-law, made new friends, and lost a few old ones. I matured. I realized what truly is important in life and began to appreciate more deeply. I finally accepted myself. But even with all of this enlightenment, one thing remained the same. I couldn't seem to find the right words or perfect timing to tell those in my life the one secret I'd been hiding: that I was a lesbian.
Kelly describes her New Jersey family as "typical old-school Italian. Very Catholic and extremely critical — sometimes narcissistic and downright scary at times."
They are also fiercely and unshakably loyal — something Kelly was reminded of a week before Thanksgiving in 2013, when her aunt (pictured below) unexpectedly passed away.
The outpouring of love, support, and homemade meatballs was incredible. It was at that time, with the uncertainty of life and the outpouring of love so blatantly before my eyes, that I realized I wasn't giving my family and friends enough credit. I was suddenly certain that their love for me far outweighed any prejudices they may possess.
She set a plan in motion to come out to her entire family on Christmas Eve.
She created shirts for each family member with a personalized note attached:
The notes read: “Because I have more faith in the love in your heart, justness of your mind, and goodness in your soul, please wear this shirt in support of me and be my ally.”