Liz CarmoucheThough the rub on this weekend’s title-fight between UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey and contender Liz Carmouche is the rumble representing the first time two females have faced off in the Octagon, the bout is equally historic in the sense it marks the first time an openly gay Mixed Martial Artist has competed under the organization’s banner. Carmouche, a lesbian, has been embraced for her courage and received an overwhelming amount of support from the MMA community. However, that wasn’t always the case for the 28-year old.

Carmouche recently offered up some insight into her life while serving as a Marine and said she lived in a constant state of paranoia. Making things even tougher, her closest friend in the Corps had a serious problem with homosexuals.

“It was really difficult. I didn’t really come out to myself until I was 22 and in the military. And at the same time I came out to my family, but under that policy, I wasn’t able to come out to my friends and my coworkers. I couldn’t be loud and proud. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering if someone was going to find out and out me,” explained Carmouche in an interview with AfterEllen.

However, enduring the process made Carmouche a stronger person, ultimately giving her enough guts to talk to her homophobic friend.

“When I got out of the military is when I actually told her. She was moving back home, and I wanted to be as open as I could – through the guidance of my girlfriend – and see if it was a real friendship. Because I knew she’d been such a homophobe, I wasn’t able to do that until I was out of the military,” revealed Carmouche. “Her response was pretty amazing. She went from being a homophobe who wanted to have everybody who was, as she put it, a “faggot,” to serve on the front lines so they’d get killed first to saying that she was mistaken. And she said she would never want that for me. And that she realized through talking to me and getting to know me, and me constantly trying to tell her not to judge people and to get to know people and see the person for who they were, that she was wrong. And she said it kind of changed her perspective on everybody.”

“It blew my mind. I’d never realized that I had had such an impact on her life,” Carmouche concluded.

Fans can catch Carmouche-Rousey fight on Saturday night in the main event at UFC 157.