EDITOR’S NOTE: THE BELOW INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED WITH TILA TEQUILA IN MID NOVEMBER, 2009. A LOT OF WEIRD STUFF HAPPENED AFTER THAT…
Her name causes a lot of people to think of things like overt sexuality, reality TV, internet obsession, and, more recently, manic personal confessions, online stripping, and domestic violence. Tila Tequila, a woman made famous via a strong commitment to various web platforms and a bisexual dating show, is far from America’s sweetheart. She is torn apart in the media, depicted as a promiscuous partier everywhere she goes, and – with the exception of her large and dedicated fan base – generally not trusted, respected, or, perhaps, understood. Her recent behavior has included filing a lawsuit against her ex, Shawne Merriman, claiming that he physically abused her, coming out as a lesbian on Twitter, and suffering a breakdown of sorts where she publicly discussed her own suicide. For most celebrities, these admissions would be treated with empathy. For most women in the spotlight, there would be an outpouring of support and concern. Tila, however, doesn’t receive that kind of reaction. But what if everything she says is true? Consider the possibility that she really is gay, was beaten up by someone she trusted, and has taken so much negativity from so many, for so long, that she did reach the point of wanting to give up? If we take what Tila has given us, listen to what she has to say without judgment, and truly give her the benefit of the doubt, then perhaps what we actually have is a strong woman who is standing up for what she believes in and selflessly putting herself before us to help promote equality and fairness for all.
We wanted to hear what Tila had to say away from her home base of the internet, one-on-one, about the many things going on in her life. Here, we talk to the Shot at Love star, musician, model, and entrepreneur about her decision to come out as a lesbian, why she remains so dedicated to her web presence, and how she keeps it all going when the world seems to be against her.
Cherry Grrl (CG): Earlier this month you came out on Twitter as a lesbian, versus bisexual. What lead to this and why did you decide that now was the time to discuss it with the public?
Tila: Well, everyone knows I rant a lot on Twitter. It’s like having a diary without too many people reading it…but, of course for me, people read my stuff all the time (laughs). But I just felt like for a long time I just knew that something was wrong but I didn’t know what it was. I was bisexual, but I never really dated men – my whole life the longest I ever had a relationship with a guy was like six months. That’s my whole life… that’s pretty bad. I’ve always found myself a lot more emotionally connected to women, and as far as guys go it was just sex. Just sex, that’s it – I didn’t care about them. I would just be like, “Get out of my house – you’re disgusting.” And then I was like: this is not normal. This is like really not okay. So I realized with everything that was happening, and hanging out with girlfriends and hanging out with girls, I just realized: wow, maybe I’ve been in denial. Because I had thought about it before but I was like, Tila, there is no way you’re a lesbian. There’s just no way – with your job and your career and you’re a sex symbol and all the guys… there’s just no way. It couldn’t be possible. So that was another added pressure on my shoulders to feel like I had to just keep ignoring that. But the more I kept ignoring the desire inside the more I felt it. So I finally had a revelation and it was like everything made sense and I realized I finally just needed to admit to myself that I was like… a lesbian (laughs). And I was like, Oh my God! (laughs).
And then after that I didn’t tell many people because I thought they just wouldn’t take it seriously. And it’s something very personal for me – like, there is enough of my public life out there that people can slander, and that I allow them to criticize, but this is something very personal for me and very new to me so I didn’t think it was right for me to go all out there or go on a press tour and like announce it. But slowly doing it this way and letting people catch on this way is best – because there is just so much going on right now. And I am really happy. I’m happier. Everything makes a lot of sense now. All of my relationships of the past, who I have been with and why, everything makes so much sense now. And I haven’t been in love with a guy for… I don’t even remember when (laughs). The last time I was in a relationship with a guy – the one that was for six months – I kept telling everybody how weird it was because he was exactly like a girl! Everybody would agree and be like, “Wow, he’s like totally like a chick!” (laughs). I was like, “I know – that’s so weird!” And so that was the whole reason that I think I actually dated that guy – because he emotionally, everything about him, was like a girl.
CG: You also, during the same conversation, revealed that in season one of Shot at Love you had actually fallen in love with Dani, not Bobby, and that the producers made you pick him. What is your relationship with Dani like now? [UPDATE: click here for Dani's response.]
Tila: I haven’t spoken to her since that last New Years show. I haven’t seen her or spoken to her since then. But you know… that was like 2 or 3 years ago now so it’s been a long time and at this point I have moved on. But as far like really putting the bad parts behind me and moving on and really starting my new life and leaving my past where it is, I felt like it was really important that I get that off my chest. That was a big, big secret that was killing me because it really wasn’t fair. Everything, the way it played out, wasn’t fair. To suffer this heartbreak and at the same time have to lie to everyone and have them criticize me… I had to try to explain why when people were like, “I thought you were so in love with her. Why didn’t you pick her?!” It was so frustrating. You don’t understand how frustrated I was. And that’s why I didn’t do a season 3. That’s why the show ended. Because I had signed a contract for 2 seasons and that’s the way it’s done – I had to do it. But by the time the third season came I had an option to not do it and that’s why I said no. I felt like, if you’re not going to let me choose who I want, it’s just not really cool the way you’re playing me out. The only real part for me, the parts that I liked, are those little moments where it’s not staged – where I’m actually having a real conversation. Where I am actually really connecting with people. Those moments were when people really see the real Tila. And then when there are like competitions and eliminations… like that was not the real me.
CG: Would you ever consider doing a dating show again?