Joey Tarin was born in Valencia Spain in 1977. He is the only Deaf child of a Military family. He had to learn to read lips as his first avenue to understanding. For a long time, his father was very ashamed of having a Deaf child. He started seeing people signing when his father was stationed in Washington DC. This is the location of the University of Gallaudet, the largest University for Deaf people in the United States. This was his language and it was a big revelation. He started to learn ASL/SEE on his own at the age of five but he could never make the connection to the Deaf culture or people because his family was always moving from place to place. At the age of 11, he had surgery on his right ear to "fix" his hearing. A surprise was that his inner ears were deformed and it really did not make a difference. “I guess the joke was on my parents.”
He always knew he was different from other kids and not only because he is Deaf, but he also likes boys. When he was 11 years old and on his way to the Dr.'s office before his surgery, is when he discovered a clue. He saw two boys holding hands. “At that moment it hit me.” I pointed at them, getting my Mom's attention then pointing at myself. :-) “This, was my coming out moment.”
From that point on, his life became more difficult with out realizing it. He was the only openly gay in middle school and continued to be the only out and open gay in high school. He was bullied for several reasons. First, his deafness. Second his broken speech and lastly by being out.
At the age of 18, he met his first “Man in Leather” and it was an awesome experience for him but that was soon over. He never saw him again and he continues to look for that experience again. For many years, he felt out of place even in the gay community. He could never find where he belonged until he started to meet the Bear community. Even though he is not a Bear, he was welcomed to be part of the group. He was given the nickname of “OTTER" then he met with other Bear and Leather Men and he has never felt more at home.
He has done some very amazing things in his life. He was a gymnast for many years. In 2000, while training for the Olympics, he hurt his back during a competition when he dislocated two of his lumbar vertebrae. This left him in a wheelchair for 10 months. Thanks to massage and physical therapy, he was able to get back in shape and on his feet. From that moment, he knew that he wanted to do the same for others. He became a massage therapist and heath educator. He is willing and able to donate time and services to others in need.
After several years, he met his very first Deaf friend "Daryl" at the Bullet Bar and he is so happy to represent such a place as the Bullet, where people from so many backgrounds and cultures come to find each other and be good friends.
He has done the AIDS Lifecycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles 3 times as a rider. He volunteers at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and has worked for them in the Youth Services department.
He is very excited about this amazing year. He hopes to do something positive for the community as the Titleholder, Mr. Bullet Leather.
Mr. Bullet Leather 2011