It's not too often that two reasonably intelligent people make a conscious decision to admit to the world that they are in a same-sex relationship so that they can alienate their friends and family, expose themselves to online bullying and damage their future employment prospects.
Nobody in their right mind sets out on a journey like ours just to be hurt. My girlfriend Megan and I knew that not everyone would be understanding and supportive of our relationship but thankfully there has also been a great deal of positive support that has kept me afloat — until now, that is. I'm just so tired of the same accusations coming up again and again. Even though this probably won't make much difference to the haters out there, for my own peace of mind I want to set some things straight (and no, I don't mean my sexuality).
First up is the ongoing assertion that this is all a publicity stunt. I get how my love story could seem too good to be true . . . two blonde, feminine women go on a television show to meet a man and end up falling for each other — it sounds like fiction, I get it. Never in my life would I have expected this to happen to me. Even those closest to me have been confused; the Tiffany they know has always been attracted to men, dated men, slept with men. But no one has been more confused than me. I always considered myself heterosexual, I have never been interested in women and I don't identify as lesbian or even bisexual. This can be extremely difficult for people to comprehend. In a world that still hasn't accepted gay and lesbian relationships, it is a long way off accepting sexual fluidity, something I am still learning about and coming to terms with myself.
My relationship with Megan has been the most rewarding, but also the most challenging, relationship I have ever been in. It certainly did not happen overnight, it took a lot of hiding in the shadows trying to figure out what we were. Megan had been with other women before but for me it was (and still is) an extremely confusing time made even harder by being in the public spotlight.
So why go public? Couldn't we have made this journey without sharing it on social media? When Megan and I decided to publicly announce that we are in a relationship (months after we started dating), we also made the decision that we would share our lives with the world in the hope that, in some small way, we might be able to evoke change. We had numerous people reach out to us to share their story and tell us we were inspiring them to be their true selves, and we realised that we were in a unique position to be agents of change.
We spoke at length about the challenges we would face but were determined we could break down social constructs, educate and inspire people to live a life of their choosing; create a world where people can be themselves without being judged — no labels. In hindsight, that sounds idealistic and naive, and indeed it is. The reality of what has happened and our innocence of what we expected could not have been more different to the reality. By rocking the established boat, our intentions and integrity are constantly brought into question and we are constantly copping sh*t.
Now I want talk about the huge financial gains that Megan and I have NOT achieved over the course of our journey — and the constant questioning of our choice of Instagram content. I want to make it clear that Megan and I have not profited financially by being together, despite what many think.
This is not well known, but I had to resign from my job when I decided to try my luck at love on a reality TV show. My fallback plan was to finish the year off doing relief teaching — my principal qualification — once the show had finished. The job I acquired as a Catholic high school relief teacher was taken from me as a result of my sexual orientation and it has become near impossible for us to get "normal" jobs with our public profile.
I now survive on the generosity of my family, and my fast-dwindling savings. So when Megan and I do get an occasional offer to do paid collaborations on social media, we accept them — and sometimes they are indeed staged photos taken by professional photographers, just like with many other social media influencers. This is not us trying to "cash in" or fake our relationship, but merely us trying to get by.
While Megan and I have chosen to share a positive and seemingly easy journey with the world, I can assure you that almost nothing about "coming out" under constant scrutiny has been easy. I write this piece not for sympathy and not to lash out at the critics but in the hope that by shedding some light on my personal struggle, it will make some people stop and think before they send words of hate and negativity our way.