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A Teen's Joke Inspired A Powerful And Hilarious Thread Of Women Sharing Their Coming-Out "Glo Ups"

Young women have now hijacked the "glo up" meme to show the progress and impact of coming out.

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This is Caitlin Crowley (right). She is 17 and a senior at Naples High School in Florida. She's dating her best friend, Kirrin Chew, who she met at a college prep program a few years ago.

Caitlin Crowley

Crowley told BuzzFeed News both she and Chew have only been "completely out of the closet" for six months, but they've been dating for a year now.

Since they've come out, Crowley said they've received an overwhelming "outpour of love" from friends and family.

Earlier this week, Crowley came across an old photo from a freshman year dance that she attended with a boy named Dylan. She and Dylan are still friends, but she had a good laugh seeing the difference a few years made.

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She decided to jokingly tweet side-by-side photos of her freshman–year self versus where she is today. "Does this count as a glo up???" she captioned it.

Freshman to senior year, does this count as a glo up???

Her tweet has gone viral, but she said intended it solely to be an inside joke between her friends.

"It was meant to be a funny joke between my friends and I, because Dylan and I are still friends and laugh at our freshman year selves very often," Crowley said.

However, her joke quickly became something more momentous and heartfelt for many people.

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley It sooooooo real

Many people laughed at the photos, but they said they also could ~feel~ them and relate to them.

@caitlincrowley_ @blueiswarmest @kirrinriley The space in between says it all and I'm living for it

Soon, it inspired other young women to share their own "glo ups." Sydney Carlson, an 18-year-old also from Florida, told BuzzFeed News she "immediately related" to Crowley's tweet. "I used to date only guys...but now am in a happy relationship with the girl in the picture," she said.

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley Relatable

Carlson said she met her current girlfriend online two years ago, and finally met her in person in May after she came out to her family.

Manny Arraiz, a 24-year-old from Atlanta, felt the tweet was so meaningful that she rummaged through old photos to share her own "glo up."

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley It sooooooo real

Her fiancée Lacey Guyton proposed this past weekend at a pride parade, she told BuzzFeed News.

"I thought it was important to share [the photos] to let people know that even when you're still in the closet and deal with all the problems — and awesome things — that come with being a young gay person, it all gets better," Arraiz said.

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"I went to Catholic school my whole life and had a hard time coming to terms with my own identity," Devin Mongan, 18, from Long Island told BuzzFeed News.

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley Amen girl, didn’t need my friend as a beard the second time around 🏳️‍🌈

Mongan was inspired by how "positive" the tweet was. She then posted a photo of her with her good friend CJ, who she went to dances with since she was not allowed to take another girl. She then contrasted it to a photo of her kissing her current girlfriend of a year.

"[CJ] was always willing to be my date for events when I couldn't take a girl. Great guy," she added.

The most common reason the young women were compelled to participate was to show the process of coming out, they said. Katy Nicholson said she was inspired to come out by seeing other out, happy lesbian couples.

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley Just thought I’d join the thread girls>boys 🌈 #gloup

"I went my first three years of high school questioning my sexuality, and then my senior year I started to date my current girlfriend," she explained.

Nicholson met her current girlfriend, Victoria Leggett, on a dating app two years ago. The just recently moved into an apartment together in the Orlando area.

"I decided to share my 'glo up' because I’m extremely proud of the progress I’ve made with being comfortable about my sexuality," Mackenzie Schmidt, 18, from Indiana told BuzzFeed News.

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley #girlsdoitbetter

Schmidt said she has an "extremely religious family" but since coming out, her parents and immediate family have been nothing but supportive.

She met her girlfriend online soon after, and they've now been dating for 10 months.

"I could see the difference in my 'glo up' from being so uncomfortable with my body and the person I was dating to how I am now!" Anissa Cruz said.

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley Most relatable tweet of 2017. Hope you make it on Ellen girl.😏 100% my biggest glow u… https://t.co/1BtDfNpyzQ

Cruz and her girlfriend Briana began dating in 2015 — the day gay marriage was legalized.

Sabrina Herstedt from Massachusetts said she too, shared her photos for "selfish" reasons. But reflecting on her photos has been therapeutic for her, the 21-year-old said.

Herstedt said she's been out for a year now, but she still has "lingering fear" of what people will think when they learn she is a lesbian. So, she was hesitant to publicly participate at first.

But on Thursday, when she told her girlfriend Katia that she loved her for the first time, she "realized how crazy it was to feel the need to keep censoring that part of my life."

"I woke up this morning and made a vow to myself to not let some kind of internalized homophobia win and just share my life," Herstedt said.

The thread is filled with countless photos threaded with personal stories of young women coming out — all thanks to Crowley.

@caitlincrowley_ @kirrinriley Most relatable tweet of 2017. Hope you make it on Ellen girl.😏 100% my biggest glow u… https://t.co/1BtDfNpyzQ

Crowley is shocked by the impact of her "joke" tweet. It's had an emotional and deeply personal effect on her, she said.

Caitlin Crowley

"Hearing the stories of complete strangers and their own coming out fears really hit me hard, because when I was first coming to terms with my sexuality I didn't know a single lesbian," she said.

"To anyone who's still in the closet: take your time, you are not alone, and you are valid!"

Tanya Chen is a social news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in New York.

Contact Tanya Chen at tanya.chen@buzzfeed.com.

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