June 2019. I wrote a blog for The Collective about my love story.

Why? Because after a two-week Europe trip with Topdeck, I met my best friend – who now happens to be my girlfriend.

Fast-forward: and we’ve experienced 365 days of incredible adventures together.

I wish I could say the last year has been without prejudice but unfortunately, since going public about our relationship – it hasn’t always been a smooth road of acceptance.

It led to many friends and family members feeling obligated to voice their opinions opposing LGBTQI+ relationships.

This prejudice against love was new for me. My relationship with Caitlin is my first with a woman, but it has been the best and strongest.

So, how did we get here?

After meeting in Europe and seven months of making it work long distance, I made the move from London to Sydney.

I am originally from NZ but conveniently, I set my sights on the same city as Caitlin (*wink).

My first couple of months in Sydney were humbling. I secured a job I love and Caitlin stepped up our date game, big time.

Being on the same time zone certainly helped – our long daily phone calls with a 14-hour time difference were no longer needed. We could FINALLY hang out in person!

And turns out we still liked each other – win!

So, in February this year we moved into the cutest apartment together overlooking central Sydney. I am so happy!

We live in the very progressive area of Darlinghurst. And our neighbourhood is full of rainbow flags in storefronts and the buzz of Kings Cross is proudly referred to as ‘Queens Cross’ by the locals.

This community celebrates P.R.I.D.E all year-round, as it should be.

Moving in with Caitlin was a massive leap of faith. And something I had never considered doing with anyone else.

But shortly after moving, Miss Corona arrived and if anything can truly test a relationship – it’s government-enforced isolation with your partner.

Our small one-bedroom apartment became our office, our gym, our place of rest and our social space.

As a couple that got through 7 months of long distance, 3 months with absolutely no distance is a whole new adventure.

During the pandemic, I struggled with my mental health and missed normal social interactions. But in moments like this, I felt grateful to have Caitlin by my side.

Despite the pressure it placed on our relationship, it has shown us that we can get through everything.

We swapped our date nights out in the city for picnics on our living room floor – cheese boards and Netflix marathons were a nice change of pace.

It also gave us the chance to plan our future travel. On the list? A New South Wales road trip, New Zealand, Japan, Bali, the Pacific Islands and eventually, back to Europe –where it all began. 

Just as travel expands our perspective on the world, it helps us to become more agile.

My relationship with Caitlin has done the same. I am proud to celebrate PRIDE this month. And I’m grateful to be surrounded by many other strong, brave people who have chosen love everything and everyone.

It’s not about what’s conventional, it is about what’s real.

So, from me to you and your community: if you know someone in the LGBTQI+ community, understand that your love and support is immensely appreciated.

As a Christian woman dating another woman, I find myself facing unnecessary judgement from all sides.

Please learn from stories like mine.

Let love prevail first and foremost, always.

Missed the prequel? Check out My Travel Love Story here

Renee Sundgren
A Social Media Manager living in Sydney. This 23-year-old kiwi is an avid traveller – 39 countries and counting!