We spoke to the reality show star about healing, friendship, and who they’re currently dating…
INTERVIEW BY NIC CROSARA, INTRO BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY NETFLIX
Tiff Der made reality TV show history during their time on Netflix’s Ultimatum: Queer Love… by being outshone by their dog Shylo. Audiences met Tiff on the sapphic dating show after they had been issued an ultimatum by their partner at the time Mildred. After coupling up with Sam during their trial marriage, we began to see Tiff’s journey of self-growth.
During the reunion episode of the show, it was revealed that Tiff was a survivor of domestic violence by their ex-girlfriend Mildred. Ever since, Tiff has made it their mission to speak out about surviving domestic and narcissistic abuse, as well as show their healing process.
We joined Tiff – and a few furry friends – to hear all about life after Ultimatum.
What do you hope that audiences from all backgrounds will take away from the show?
I hope that this show serves as a gap between all walks of life, so everyone can see that we’re not that different from everybody else. I hope it shows that there is way more that unites us than divides us. I think that we love the same, we cry the same, we shed tears the same, and we have breakups the same.
It’s about damn time they put on a large-platformed dating show with all queer representation. It’s been a long time coming. I’m just glad that I get to be a part of it. We’re not here to be perfect. A lot of people have been saying “Why be this trashy?” The way that I see it is that our role in it is not to make us look superior or better than mainstream, straight media. It’s to make us human – the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. We know that all of you watching at home do the same shit that we do!
The show was very well received, but some viewers commented on how some pronouns weren’t clear on the show, and that in the reunion there wasn’t a hotline featured. What do you think the production team can learn from this season?
I think there should have been a domestic violence hotline on the reunion episode. I think they could have done better on that.
When it comes to pronouns, it’s a long story. I don’t think that they did anything intentionally when it came to pronouns. At the time of filming, I did go by she/they, but I noticed very quickly that no one really tried with ‘they’. My preferred pronouns have always been they/them, but I did have this time in my life where I felt ashamed in the sense that I didn’t want anyone to have to change anything or feel slightly uncomfortable. I comfortably went by she/they for about four years.
As we were filming on set, I realised that this show was going to be shown to millions of people and I was the only non-binary person on the cast (at the time) and no one was trying to use they pronouns – not even my own partner. The other moving piece is that production didn’t even know I was non-binary until three weeks into the show. Neither did other cast mates other than Sam and Mildred.
At the time, everyone went by she/her. I know that Mal and Xander use she/they now. I feel that if they would have put pronouns in it would have been hard as what they identify as now is different to when the show was filmed. I think it would have confused people.
I think that [Netflix] is willing to learn though. With scenes like the #FingerGate situation, I had received a text earlier in the day saying: Get ready for girls’ night out. We came together and said: “Hey, if you label this as a girls’ night out, the non-binary community will be upset by this.” They took that into consideration, and then called it a group’s night out or friend’s night out instead.
Abuse in queer relationships is not often spoken about. Following what happened in your relationship with Mildred, I imagine you’ve gotten a lot of messages from survivors of abuse. What has that been like?
Healing is not a linear process. You think that you can be over something, and then the whole world sees it and I get thousands of DMs and messages. 90% of it is positive but I do get some negative comments. When that gets busted wide open into the world like a time capsule you realise that healing is not a linear process. It’s just made me see survivors in a whole new way.
I know that you’re an avid reader, has there been a book that’s helped you?
Welcome Home by Najwa Zebian.
I know you shared your YouTube video sharing your side of the story. What was it like having to wait so long to have to address it?
I had a long time to wait to address it, but in all fairness, Mildred had to wait for the world to see her side of the story too. I think there was only a four-day time period where people didn’t know my side of the story. It was a little painful to make.
90% of the reason I made that video is so that people who have been in similar situations can also have a voice and feel heard and seen. A lot of people don’t have the voice to speak up. No matter what they say or do they think that no one will believe them because their manipulator has that much power over them.
I definitely felt like the video would give people in a similar situation to me hope and to feel seen. It’s a very nuanced thing which doesn’t get talked about enough in queer culture and communities. I heard a lot of feedback about the show say that if Mildred was a straight man and if I was a woman, the reunion would have been handled very differently. I had never even thought of it like that until after the show had been aired.
Thank you for sharing your side of the story and giving people hope. One of my favourite parts of your journey on the show was your trial marriage with Sam. Are you still friends with Sam?
We’re still friends! We still talk. I’m in a text thread with her and Aussie. She’s one of those people that I can not speak to for a month, and then I’ll message her and we pick up right where we left off. We get each other – we have a good soul connection. We know that our hearts and our intentions are in a very good place. It’s a no judgement zone. I can talk to her about literally anything.
We were obsessed with Sam!
During filming, a few of us did have a conversation saying that it was interesting to see a couple like Aussie and Sam on a TV show like this. It’s almost like she’s too sweet for a drama TV show! I love how it all played out though. Now that I look back on it, you needed to see how emotionally intelligent and regulated Sam was during the rockiness of her relationship to use as contrast with the rest of the drama. I think that was needed to show balance.
I came from a very tumultuous, constantly on-edge relationship, and then you see me coming into my relationship with Sam. And boom, off the bat I become a by-product of what I’m used to with things like the dog situation. We weren’t really arguing over the dog. Immediately after filming, she said: “Whatever just happened doesn’t change how I feel about you.” And my walls just came down. You see my growth process through my storyline. I was glad that she was there.
Our readers do love to read about all things love and dating, are you able to tell us what your love life is looking like at the moment?
I’m dating right now. But as far as who I’m dating? I’m going to keep that private. Right after Mildred, I began dating again. But after a month or so I realised that I needed to heal and work on myself. For about seven months I went on a journey to find myself and heal all the things that I didn’t even know I needed to heal.
It was very weird dating before the show came out because technically you’re not allowed to say anything. It was really weird navigating it. There’s also a mini amount of fame which comes with the show’s release. I do get recognised in the street now. Especially in a gay bar or sapphic bar.
It was rough starting the dating process not knowing whether to tell people about the show. We blew up overnight in a way that an artist or comedian may not. But for us, we went from no one knowing who we were to a lot of people knowing us in one night. It’s hard to navigate the dating waters during that because you don’t know whether someone is trying to get to know who you are on the inside or just for the person you are on TV.
I saw that since the show you’ve been raising money for The Trevor Project.
When the show first came out, we all did Cameo videos for The Trevor Project. I have a soft spot for LGBTQIA youth. When you’re under the roof of people who don’t accept you for who you are, having someone there who cares is everything. It’s their lifeline. I, fortunately, had amazing, supportive parents. I was so blessed. Teenagehood was rough to begin with regardless. I have no idea how I would have been able to navigate those waters without the love and support of my parents.
Listen to Tiff’s podcast The Fweebs Podcast now!
If you are a victim of domestic violence (or know someone that is), please head over to the anti-abuse LGBTQIA charity Galop.
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