59 - Tiffany Abeyta
Married to Danna Duran
Colorado Springs, CO
Lady Barber - Tiffany Tapers
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“I think I knew in 2nd or 3rd grade that I liked girls… While the boys were playing football, I was swinging with the girls… just because that’s how things were. Then I noticed how all the girls were cheering for the boys playing football, and I decided then that I didn’t want to swing with the girls anymore… I wanted to be out there playing football. That’s when I started hanging with the boys and doing boyish stuff. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a boy, but more that I just wanted the attention of the girls. It was definitely very evident that I liked girls, in the beginning…”
On her coming out experience…
“Actually, my mom and us kids had just moved to Oklahoma - I had lived in Colorado Springs for my entire live up until that point… My mom got in a relationship. And since I hadn’t come out at that point, I used that as an opportunity to come out. I came out first to my peers… around 14/15, I told all my new Oklahoma friends I was gay, so they only knew me as a lesbian. Then, my sister and I shared a phone… and she read some of the text messages I had sent to a long-distance relationship I [was in at the time]. The cat was out of the bag, and in passing she told my mom about it. My mom asked me, ‘Tif, are you gay?’ I was like, ‘Yeah…’ and that was it. No questions. She didn’t act differently or anything. Then two weeks later I came out on Facebook to the rest of my family, since we were in Oklahoma and they were all here (Colorado Springs). I actually just shared that post yesterday…
[With family]... it’s really interesting because I come from a really, really big family. My family is huge. You would think I wouldn’t have been the first person to come out, but I was the first person that was blatantly say, ‘Hey, I like girls, and I don’t care!’. My family is very Catholic, and so that judge-iness came naturally. I think the people that had the hardest time, were the older generation, my grandma’s generation. Mostly on my mom’s side, my dad’s side was always very loving, very welcoming… they messaged me and told me that they didn’t feel any different about me. So that was always very warm. My mom was the same. My [maternal] grandma is the only one who didn’t take it so well, but it’s been 8 years and she’s coming around slowly but surely. For the most part, I had all the love and support I could’ve asked for those who I needed it from. If they didn’t, I just didn’t care…”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“It’s kind of funny, because I just always had this fear that I wouldn’t be loved the same… that I wouldn’t be loved equally. So randomly, me and my mom would be watching TV, or eating dinner, and I’d ask her, ‘Mom, what would you do if one of your kids was gay?’ You know, to test the water… I had that fear of not being loved… of not being accepted. Once you get past that leap of accepting it yourself, you really don’t care what other people think…”
Favorite part about our community?
“All the lesbians have really cool style…
...and even though there is lack of acceptance, there also is… if there’s someone different, we are a little more able to understand their experience. Even if they aren’t gay or lesbian, but a minority… or have a disability… I think we’re a little bit more understanding. Maybe that’s from personal experience, but that’s how I feel…”
Frustrations within the community?
“I feel like even within our community there still some level of acceptance that needs to be reached. ‘You’re not the right kind of gay… or the right kind of trans…’ and that really frustrating for me. If you love who you love, that’s all I care about. I’m not going to ask you about it. If I misgender you, just correct me and we’ll go from there. I think that’s the hardest thing… just everyone getting on that level playing field. If we as a community can’t do it, how can we expect those outside of our community to do it?”
What is something you would tell a younger you? Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?
“To younger me… no matter what, it’ll be alright. No matter the circumstances. I went through a lot of sh*t being gay and otherwise… no matter what, as long as you’re okay, personally… you gotta be your own biggest fan.
To others… I guess that’s the beauty of this project… there’s someone to relate with. You’re not alone. There’s always someone somewhere… even if it’s across a computer or text message. Just reach out… We’ve all struggled. We’ve all been there. I’m always available!”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I’m most proud of overcoming obstacles. I think everyone has some sort of circumstance they’re trying to overcome in their life... and it’s whether you become a victim of those circumstances, or you overcome them. For me, I’m most proud of that. Being able to be adverse in a world that throws everything at you…”
With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“I don’t know… because you can’t make people have compassion, and I feel that’s what we lack in the world… that’s what I feel we need. Even if it’s just a little bit of empathy… If everyone understood, to some degree, what everyone else was going through, there’d be a lot less hate in the world…”