Meet Tiffany

3/16/2019

Milkos/bigstock.com

Fear of being ridiculed. Definitely, being ridiculed by my peers,” Tiffany tells me.

Your friends, your family, the following you have amassed over the years that honor and look up to you – these are the people who you know enjoy you. They love you. You feel that. But you have a secret. A secret that you have always tried to hide from everyone. A secret that you cherish. You ascertain that a large number of people will accept you after you reveal this secret, but it’s also certain that a substantial amount of this population passes harsh judgment on those harboring this secret. The secret is that you are bi.

Tiffany Desiree, Image Courtesy of Tiffany Desiree

Tiffany Desiree is bi. She wants you to know that. This is her coming out, or as she puts it: a second coming out. She describes a certain phenomenon among bi people that she’s noticed: bi people often get forced into the closet twice and therefore come out more than once in their lifetimes.

Tiffany is a published author and is most well-known for her children’s books for US publisher LolliWolliWorld: “No Peas, Please,” “The First Christmas In Fruity Land,” and “Fair Day In Fruity Land.” The books center around Asian and African elephants and their adventures together.

Before that, she was a talented blogger who kept tabs on the local scene in Seattle for her followers, sharing information about places and events in and around the Puget Sound area. She was known as SHB: Seattle’s Hottest Blogger.

“Starting off, it was strictly anything ‘Seattle,’ I was there. If someone was having a music video shoot, I was there. A new restaurant opening up. Seahawks winning, I was downtown, you know, celebrating with everybody. So, anything ‘Seattle’ I was literally at every event…. It was definitely fun. It opened the doors for me to travel. So, I wrote for Culture Magazine for a period of time. I did a lot of independent stuff. It was fun, but eventually I wanted to branch out and make a name for myself versus writing about other people.”

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Desiree

Within the blogosphere and among parents and their children she has garnered quite a community of readers over the years, so in September 2018, poetically enough on Bi Pride Day, when she decided to publish a book of poetry that would bring sexuality into the mix, Tiffany was a bit nervous. How would her fans react? It was this book that would help her slide into her own bi-lightening. Called Nature, Sex, & Culture: A Tree Of Discombobulated Thoughts, Ms. Desiree’s book touches on issues affecting our environment and the animals living there, outer space, imagination, reincarnation, the ecstasy in lovemaking, journeys from friendship to romance to heartache and confusion, historical authors (one whom most may not be aware of), and the comforting power of touch.

Divided into three sections, the collection of poems paint a picture of Tiffany’s life and experiences within the natural world, her rendezvous with intimacy, and as someone who is genetically the product of multiple cultures, the internal struggle to define oneself across the vast norm in America and the never ending battle against assimilation.

This isn’t the first time Tiffany has come out bi.

“I actually first came out, it was way back in middle school, and I told my mom, ‘I’m bisexual.’ and she was like, ‘Oh. Ok. Have you always had these feelings?’ Truthfully, I’ve had these feelings since I was six or seven but when you’re a kid you don’t actually understand those feelings. You don’t know where it’s coming from or the norm that we grew up with, you just don’t see that, so you’re like ‘Oh, that can’t be normal. I can’t like another girl. People are gonna look at me funny so I’m just going to act like I don’t like other girls. I’m only going to talk about the guys that I like. Right?’ So, I told my mom I just always knew since I was a little kid about those feelings and so after that going on to high school and then college, I spent time reaccepting or accepting myself and acknowledging myself for who I am.”

Even as she affirmed within herself that she’s bi, it was a fact that she kept mostly private.

Societal pressure to live a heterosexual lifestyle is prevalent. We are bombarded with it from the pulpit, we witness it in almost every romantic comedy for the last one hundred years of cinema, and it stares at our faces on every romance novel cover. All these together play a role in keeping you heterosexual, despite the fact that you’re not (if you’re not). It can be a slow dig out of the metaphorical soil you’ve buried yourself in after you’ve spent years covering up any trace of bisexuality after packing it down hard. Not always, but it can be.

Tiffany discusses her own slow dig.

“A lot of people, unfortunately, would be very judgmental. One minute they could see me going out on a date with a guy. Doesn’t mean I’m in a relationship with him. I’m going on a date with him. See how it goes. And then, I might end up in a relationship with another woman. A lot of people would look at me, like, ‘Oh, you’re so, like I don’t get what you’re doing here. Either you like guys or girls.’ And I’m just like, ‘I like both. Why do I have to choose?’ I can go out on a date with people, and who I vibe with more, that will be the person I end up with.”

Unfortunately, when Tiffany ended up with a man, people decided she was straight.

“After coming out in middle school and then kind of just slowly progressing into accepting myself, and then, BOOM, I get into a relationship with a man, then I get back into the closet. And so I spent additional years kinda in the closet, but not necessarily in the closet because those who were close to me know for a fact that I am a bisexual woman.”

She goes on.

“I got so tired of re-explaining myself over and over again. It was just, like, ‘Okay. I’m tired.’ Whoever becomes my friend or who I can trust, I’ll share that with them, and so that is why I say, ‘As bisexual people, we are forced back into the closet not once but twice, because the first time you come out, you might be single, or you end up in a relationship with a guy, y’know, someone of the opposite sex, and people just assume, ‘Okay, she’s straight now.’ So I kind of set on that poetry book which is an exploration of my experiences as a bisexual woman. So, me publishing that in 2018 was in a sense, me coming out again. And so a lot of people have come up to me and they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re gay.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t… There’s nowhere on my profile that I say I was gay.’ I said, ‘My poetry is a reflection of my experiences with both men and women. I am bisexual.’ So, it’s: ‘You can’t be bisexual. You have to be gay or straight.’ It’s like ‘bisexuality doesn’t exist.’ And that’s why I wrote that poetry book so people can understand that we are real. We do exist. My poetry is a reflection of that.”

Since publishing her poetry book she’s gotten mail from “concerned citizens.”

“I do have a lot of people who message me on my fan page, especially on Facebook and they ask me questions like, ‘Are you gay?’ or ‘Okay, so what does queer mean?’, ‘What does bisexuality mean?’, ‘So, do you like men?’ and so it’s interesting to see how different it is coming out again versus in the past. There’s still… It’s like, much has not changed, honestly. Little differences, but still has not changed.”

What made Tiffany first realize she is bi? 

“What made me realize it was actually a childhood friend who was very, very close and one day we just looked at each other and were just like, ‘Oh, we like-like each other’ and we would hold hands all the time. We were, in a sense, kind of like, you know when you’re a kid and everyone has their childhood boy crush?: ‘Oh, you gave me a Starburst and now we’re dating.’ That’s kind of like how it was with us. It was a feeling I couldn’t quite understand but it felt so natural to me. That’s actually when I first knew. And we didn’t see anything wrong with it until we got older and people had their opinions. It was definitely a friendship and just the closeness that we had that made us realize that we liked each other more. There was something more than just, ‘Oh, I like you as a friend. I really like you.”

Tiffany had talked about opinions people had that made her hide her queer parts from them. I ask her to share some of those negative opinions.

“Growing up I used to hear things like, ‘Those gay people, or those queer people, they only identify as that because they were touched as a kid.’ And so people used to use that word touched as in ‘Oh, they were raped or molested and that’s why they were gay’ and it used to piss me off because I’m like, ‘Not every person within the queer community has experienced sexual assault. There’s quite a lot of us who have not.’ So it’s definitely hurtful and so those were some of the things that pushed me back into the closet. Then I would hear other things like, ‘Oh, you’re going to go to hell’, ‘God doesn’t like people like you’, or they would say things like, ‘Gay people have the mark of the beast.’ Sadly, I used to hear stuff like that. It used to scare the crap out of me. ~Oh my gosh! There’s a mark on me? Where is it?~”

Tiffany laughs at the ridiculousness of these sayings and how easy it is as children to be naive to what falsehoods adults and other children repeat.

“It scares you. When you’re like, ‘I don’t want to identify with the queer community ’cause then people are going to think I’ve been touched, or I have mental health issues, or I have the mark of the beast,’ or whatever verbiage they use and those things are, believe it or not, a lot of people have experienced things like that, those words. Maybe not exactly as is, but some form of it, that continues to push people back into the closet. And I think that’s what causes the mental health issues. When you can’t be yourself.”

The statistics suggest that negative influences from outside sources perpetually suggesting one does not exist do create an almost crippling inability to function as your true self because bi people begin to believe they must either be gay/lesbian or straight. The paradox is set in the mind and if it’s set early enough, while a bi person is young, it seems harder to rid yourself of such lies. They become almost ingrained within you. So we bury our bisexuality. We pack that soil down so tight to hide our bi-ness, but I like to think the fluidity of others as they tell their stories about being bi and as you read them can wash away that hard-packed soil.

In Tiffany’s case, these harmful sayings during her youth came mostly from those who Tiffany perceived to be straight. In Seattle, for the most part, Tiffany describes her youth as being very open-minded, progressive, and forward thinking.

“Growing up in Seattle, the queer culture there is very different. I had trans friends, other bi friends, friends who were non-binary. I want to say, but I can’t speak for the whole Seattle community but it was really non-judgmental. It was kind of like: ‘Come in as you and we’re going to like you for you.’ Going to school at Seattle Central Community College, before I went off to the university, going there actually helped me become more comfortable about myself. Because I had friends who were just like, ‘Man, just be yourself. Be yourself.’”

In recent years, statistics about bi people suggest we are more prone to depression and having mental health issues. This isn’t to say that being bi means you have mental health issues and depression, but it means we are not immune to it and that our community faces additional stressors. Tiffany had her own experiences with depression.

“I think what kind of pushed me over the edge, in a sense, to be more comfortable with myself is when my friend actually committed suicide who identified as trans. I went through a deep depression for years and, believe it or not, I never talked to my family about it. They’re just trying to figure out ‘Why was she sad?’ or just ‘Not herself’. Well, because I lost a friend who was unfortunately bullied by some people and they decided to go to an eight story building and they jumped out the window. So, that scared me because there was the bullying and then there was the, y’know, with her trying to accept herself as trans, it was just, it was a sad thing to witness and definitely to go through, but it scared me because I don’t want to, first of all, lose any more friends and I definitely don’t want to lose myself or my family to lose me because of what society might view me as.”

“There’s always going to be those people who do not accept anyone within the LGBT community and that’s where that fear for some people keeps them in the closet because ‘Why can’t we be proud?’, ‘Why can’t we be okay with ourselves?’, ‘Why does there always have to be some type of underlying issue?’ or anything, y’know? But the more people become accepting of themselves, unfortunately some people are being hurt, and that was my friend in college. As soon as she became accepting of herself as trans, all of a sudden she wasn’t with us.”

There are always dangers involved with being out of the ordinary, but as time goes by, I’m certain society will see how ordinary it is to be bi, and to be trans, as well. We have to have that hope and continue to normalize our experiences. Coming out in droves will bring about that positive, safe future for us. As we see more and more of us, mental health issues surrounding that will dissipate.

This kind of opposition toward bi people doesn’t just come from straight people. Tiffany tells me she doesn’t quite feel that the gay and lesbian community have her back as a bi woman.

“I don’t really feel as if I get much support from people within the gay community or the lesbian community. A lot of my support surprisingly does come from other bisexuals or even straight people, and I’m like, ‘Wow! A straight person will support me faster than someone who is in the LGBT community.’ So, y’know, allies who identify as straight are more supportive. Sometimes it can be very disappointing because I feel as if they (gays and lesbians) make you feel as if you’re not welcomed, or you shouldn’t be there, and it’s like, ‘Where do we go? Where can bisexual people meet and feel welcomed and be okay?’ Y’know? Why do we always have to feel like the outcasts even at an event that strictly says LGBTQ? There’s a ‘B’ in there for a reason.”

Although she recently attended Pride in Las Vegas, Tiffany’s previous pride experience has been in Seattle in 2011. 

“The last experience there was really not much bisexual representation. It was just the gay and lesbian community. That was it, and so I kind of felt like ‘What’s the point of going?’ I don’t see the representation at all.”

Online, Tiffany tries to be actively involved with #BiTwitter. She’s involved with Bisexual Bloggers, Bisexual Women of Seattle; she tries to get involved as much as she can.

“Those communities help you become more comfortable. They kind of motivate you to come out and that’s what helped me, especially on Twitter, because there’s a strong bi community on Twitter. I love going on there!”

We have these little pockets of bi groups around the world, but online we have a massive presence.

“The people I have communicated with, have interacted with, it has been the best thing ever. I’m like, ‘How can we get us to just, like, come from behind our keyboards and meet in person’.”

I tell her that the world paints this picture of bi people as sexual deviants and spreading diseases constantly but it’s really like we’re super shy people and most of us probably don’t date. She agrees and laughs,

“Omigosh! You nailed it! Super nerdy. Introverted. Sitting at home on our computers. Far from sexual deviants.” Somebody should make a documentary about that.

Tiffany dated a woman at Seattle Central Community College for about two years but it didn’t work out. When she went to university she longed for someone just like her last partner but couldn’t find anyone like her.

“It doesn’t work out that way. It never happens. I went through that stage of dating. The dates were just horrible. It was very interesting.” Her experiences at horrific dating and lost love had inspired her to write a book about it, which she hopes to come out in about a year. She says despite being known as a children’s author and metropolitan Seattle blogger, more adult content will be coming out.

As we talk about her writing, Tiffany makes a connection to herself and her work,

“My children’s books are definitely a reflection of my animal activism and just how much I care about nature and how much we need to do better as humans. My poetry books, and my adult books, and my short stories are definitely bringing awareness to bisexuality and trying to help more people to become comfortable with coming out and being okay.”

With this article Tiffany Desiree is officially, loudly, publicly out. This is her opportunity to shine as a bi woman, provided by her bravery and bi.org. She feels her writing can benefit others and I believe that, too. She explains, “I feel as a queer woman of color…there’s nowhere for me to go and I feel like my writing allows for me to create a platform where people can go.”

For more from Tiffany follow her on Twitter @TiffanyDesiree6 

Greg Ward
Gregory Ward was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he resides today. He spends his time bringing awareness to the local scene and helping bi folk. He loves movies, astronomy, and the Irish language. He founded Fluid Arizona which is an active bi+ community that can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and is a big proponent of the #stillbisexual campaign.