April 1, 2023

Digital Music Writer, PEOPLE
Hayley Kiyoko got emotional while discussing her girlfriend Becca Tilley‘s complex coming out process.
The pair got together after meeting at Kiyoko’s Expectations album release party in 2018 and kept their romance private before revealing the relationship in the 31-year-old pop singer’s “For the Girls” music video earlier this year. During a new episode of Tilley and Tanya Rad’s Scrubbing In podcast, Kiyoko spoke about the time period in which they chose to hide their relationship.
"When we started dating, I was ready to have a public relationship," admitted Kiyoko during the episode. "When we were navigating her experience and where she was at in her journey, that obviously shifted. But it was worth it to me because I wanted to be in a relationship with her, and I never felt like she was hiding me."
The Disney Channel alum recalled feeling hidden in previous relationships with women who hadn't come out as queer yet, but she noted that it felt different with Tilley, 33: "I was never a secret, we just kept our relationship private. It took me a second to get used to, and then I fell in love with it, because it was like, 'This is ours, and how cool is this, that we get to just share this, and grow it and really build a foundation?'"
Kiyoko continued, "Obviously, now we've shared it with everyone, and it's been great because we know where we stand, and what we love to share, and what we love to keep to ourselves, and finding that fine line. But this is my first time doing this too, so we're navigating that together, and I'm just happy to be a part of her journey."
After recounting their relationship's origins, Kiyoko started to cry and mentioned that Tilley's "been through a lot" that the public doesn't know about. "She deserves lots of love, and everyone in my community, in our community, deserves to be loved and accepted for who they are," said the "Curious" musician.
"I was also honored to be there with her during her journey to know that she should live the life that she wants to live," added Kiyoko. "A lot of my fans go through that too, so it was really interesting to be a partner for that, if that makes sense, 'cause I hadn't been a part of that."
Tilley also spoke about the decision to keep the relationship private from her perspective, noting that she felt bad for Kiyoko at first. "I tried my best to empathize with Hayley and let her know, 'I know it's hard. I never want you to feel hidden or like you're a secret, but this is my first time navigating it, and I don't want to have to do it in the public yet,'" she said.
After four years, the couple went public in the Bachelorette-themed "For the Girls" music video, and Tilley's happy with the way it all went down. "I'm just really proud of us navigating those hard conversations," she said. "I had my own stuff going on, but I was so certain of her. It was never like I had doubts about her or was ashamed of her."
Following her time on The Bachelor and public relationship with contestant Robert Graham in 2017, Tilley wanted to approach her relationship with Kiyoko carefully.
"I had been in a public relationship with Robert, and I remember when it was time to break up, it was like I'm letting people down. I was trying to explain that to her, that I don't want that pressure, especially on top of navigating this for the first time," she explained. "By the time we went public, I felt so secure in who I am, and so secure in our relationship, and that we were on the same page. I was so ready to share with people."
Kiyoko then revealed she was "triggered" at first by the thought of keeping the relationship a secret. "It initially triggered all these traumas, but I also had to be like, 'That's not Becca. That's not our situation, and I need to respect her journey in feeling comfortable in wherever she's at,'" she recalled.
The "Demons" singer-songwriter, added, "That was interesting for me to navigate, too, because it's not black and white. Growing up, if a girl wasn't ready to flaunt me or show up one thousand percent, I was like, 'Well, they don't love me,' or, 'They're not the one,' and that's not necessarily true."
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