When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned almost 50 years of legal precedent last June by stripping away the constitutional right to abortion, Destiny Adams was horrified. She foresaw devastating consequences for her community in Wolfforth, a tiny West Texas suburb of Lubbock with little access to contraception. She couldn’t stand by and do nothing.
“Women that aren’t prepared to have a child should have the right to say, ‘Hey, I can’t give this child the best life it could have. I need an abortion,’” Adams told the Texas Observer. “It shouldn’t be anyone else’s choice except for the mother.”
At Tumbleweed + Sage Coffeehouse, the bustling little shop Adams owns across the street from the Frenship High School football stadium, she started distributing free reproductive kits including Plan B pills, pregnancy tests, condoms, and informational pamphlets. In response, conservative members of her community have protested at her store, called the police on Adams, and are organizing to change city laws to stop her advocacy. “Initially, I was scared,” she said. “I’m putting my business and my livelihood on the line to help others. Was it really worth it?”
Adams says she’s not a troublemaker. She just wants to create a safe space for people who might otherwise feel alienated in her conservative, rural town. As the Observer previously reported, Tumbleweed + Sage hosted the first drag queen story time in Wolfforth last summer, sparking what the local police chief said was the only protest he’d seen in the city in three decades.
Before opening Tumbleweed + Sage in June 2020, Adams—a Lubbock native—had left her hometown to travel with her husband, Cole Adams, fighting for health care reform, civil rights, and women’s equality. For six years, she labored as a field director for the Texas Democratic Party and as an organizer for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The chaotic world of political activism was invigorating, but eventually the pull of family became overwhelming.
“Our parents were getting a little bit older,” Adams said. “My mom had health issues, and I wanted to come home and be with her.”
Having given up their political aspirations, the couple returned to Lubbock. As they evaluated their career options, they knew they wanted to do something that made a difference. Inspired by the sense of community in the local coffee shops they’d frequented on the campaign trail, Destiny wanted to provide an accepting and inclusive space in her own hometown.
Tumbleweed + Sage opened for business three months into the COVID-19 pandemic. During its first year, the coffee shop offered only drive-through service. When the location finally opened its doors to the public, it hosted quirky, pop culture-themed events—Harry Potter Movie and Trivia Night, Mean Girls Shop Takeover, Twilight After Hours PJ Party, etc.—along with accompanying specialty drink and pastry menus.
”We’re a true mom and pop shop. You get what you get when you come here because it’s a resemblance of me and Cole,” Adams said.
The shop’s events also reflect the Adamses’ past as political activists. Despite the public outcry, Tumbleweed + Sage has continued to host drag events in recent months. And so far, they’ve distributed around 150 free reproductive kits, which are provided by Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit organization that helps teens access reproductive health services.
The backlash from conservative members in the community has been swift. Phone calls flood the office line so often that Destiny rarely keeps it plugged in, and protesters have held demonstrations outside of the shop. But Adams is resolute: “To enact change you have to make people feel uncomfortable,” she said.
Even though Adams is not breaking any laws by providing over-the-counter contraceptives, right-wing evangelicals are organizing to take drastic measures against her. Mark Lee Dickson, the radical anti-abortion advocate who lobbied for Lubbock to become a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” led a recent meeting at Flatland Bible Church in Wolfforth to discuss how to draft city ordinances to prevent the activism at Tumbleweed + Sage. The first ordinance discussed would ban the distribution of Plan B by anyone in Wolfforth. The second would ban all-age drag queen story times unless the venue hosting them is licensed as a sexually oriented business.
“We don’t want [Tumbleweed + Sage] to go out of business, per se,” said Jim Baxa, president of West Texas for Life, who attended the meeting. “We want them to repent, and we want them to stop doing the evil deed [of providing Plan B] and just provide coffee.”
Others in the community, meanwhile, note how important access to free contraceptives is, especially in a city like Wolfforth, where Adams said Plan B is not available in any store. When Evangelina Zubia—who attended high school in Lubbock—had a pregnancy scare at age 16, she was afraid to ask her mother for help. A cousin gave her the information for Jane’s Due Process, which provided Zubia with the same reproductive kit that Destiny distributes.
“It was really comforting to just know that someone’s putting in the effort to make sure that I don’t have to deal with teen pregnancy in the state of Texas. It made me feel like these people have my back,” said Zubia, now a first-year student at Texas Tech who volunteers for Jane’s Due Process as a reproductive kit deliverer, occasionally refilling the kits at Tumbleweed + Sage.
”At the end of the day, the most meaning we’re getting from this is that we’re educating our community and actually providing a service that is truly needed,” Adams said. “Yes, you can get free Plan B here. Yes, you can get free condoms here. Yes, you can get high quality coffee and pastries here. We’re just like the cool, big cities but in the middle of two dirt fields.”
However, Adams’ advocacy has taken a personal toll. After she and Cole hosted the first drag queen story time event, Cole’s parents severed ties with them. “I almost got blindsided by it all. It was really depressing and really hurt my feelings,” he said.
Despite the personal ramifications and community backlash, Adams said there’s been an overwhelming swell of support too, and she has no plans to slow down.
“When I came home, I realized … the right answer is to stay at home and actually enact change in a place I actually care about,” Adams said. “I know about the history. I know the people’s stories from here. I could have gotten more done here than I could have in politics ever. And I can see the people that it actually affects.”
Correction 1/25/2023: A previous version of this story misstated the pregnancy history of a subject. We regret the error.