Posted on

Tolerance – a core strength

Tolerance – A Core Strength

Tolerance — respecting human dignity — seems like a particularly timely topic.  Is it that people are allowing religion to do more of their thinking for them?  Has our educational system failed too?  How can I continue to model tolerance for our son and do my part to help create a more inclusive society?  When confronted with intolerant behavior, how does our family remain strong?

While organizations like, and are fairly well known, the following are some sites I use as resources that provide outstanding information and/or support and do not come up in discussion as often. : This article #LGBTQ: How to Support LGBTQ-Owned Small Businesses & Resources at Finimpact is a great resource for LGBTQ owners who need support, offering some of the best ways to support LGBTQ-owned businesses right now.  :  We L O V E this organization and its outreach efforts, and we donate 1% of our sales to this non-profit so we may be a bit biased. The Matthew Shepard Foundation provides educational resources for schools to encourage greater acceptance of individuals different from ourselves and manages a website for youth to find programs and shelters that are welcoming regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.  Judy and Dennis Shepard also speak about bullying and hate crimes at schools, college campuses and organizations.  :   Though focused on educators, this creation of the Southern Poverty Law Center has well written articles and an exhaustive list of resources covering a wide variety of topics.  The one that caught my eye this past week:  “Don’t Threaten My Religion” by Sara Wicht, discussing lessons educators can use to help students deal with content that may threaten individual belief systems. :  Way to go Michigan!  Created by the Strengthening Families Initiative, a part of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation,  this is a great resource for straightforward and “readily consumable” information to share with friends, parents-to-be, and families with young kids.  It outlines methods for promoting personal resilience and healthy family life behaviors.

When confronted with intolerant and sometimes aggressive behavior,  I want our son to have learned to recognize the insecurity behind the action and have the skills and strength to handle the situation in a healthy way.  We aren’t there yet, but we’re working hard.  Now if we could get him to do his chores without being reminded…

Posted on

Santa Margarita Ranch Wedding: Alexis & Lisa

Alexis and Lisa were married on February 20, 2016 at Santa Margarita Ranch in Santa Margarita, California. Photographed by Nadine Cheetah of Cheetah Photography.


Who proposed to whom? I, Alexis, proposed to Lisa.

How did you get engaged? I had a hotel room, lined the entrance with candles and in the room had 25 balloons with reasons why I love her attached to the bottom of each one. The ring was in a big gift box and when she opened it I took it and proposed.

Wedding date? February 20, 2016

Venue? Santa Margarita Ranch

Coordinator? We coordinated and planned our wedding.

Catering? Dickies BBQ

Cake? Sea breeze cupcakes

Photographer? Nadine Cheetah of Cheetah Photography

DJ? DJ Brian Cheetah – DJ Cheetah

Florist? Bought and put together our own flowers and centerpieces.

Hair/Makeup? Hair and make up was done by Lisa’s sister Amy Friesen and our friend Ruby Rodriguez.

This was a totally DIY wedding. We loved planning, building, and decorating everything. We would do it all over again if we could! – Alexis

Posted on

Two Dad’s? No Problem

School Registration


Sometimes it’s the small stuff.

This past week our son brought home yet another school form for us to complete with the same information we’ve provided too many times before.  [Why not request this information digitally,  password protect it, and then update on an as-needed basis… different discussion for another time].  I have lined out “mother” every time before with varying degrees of frustration.

This time I got angry.  This time was different.  After all, we do live in California, we expect better.  But it’s also because despite recent strides in marriage equality, we are witnessing just how quickly progress can be rolled-back and countered.

This time IT was not “just a little thing”, or a “meaningless detail”.  IT is part of the same continuum on which both North Carolina’s and Mississippi’s recent discriminatory and bigoted legislative maneuvers sit.  While a very great distance separates this form’s lazy and parochial typeset from these new state laws, a gateway to learned hate and discriminatory behavior is right there on the page, and I could not ignore it this time.

Not long after I snapped a picture of the form, our son noticed the image sitting on my screen and asked me why it was there.  I was both glad for the opportunity and bothered by the need to have something to explain.  When I had finished, he seemed satisfied, and said, “hmmm, why doesn’t it just say parent or guardian”?  That is a good question.  Or why does it assume there are two parents?  Why doesn’t it just simply ask for emergency contacts and let me define their relationship via another blank?

This form has no doubt been pulled out and photocopied many many times, and given the perpetually overworked public school staff, I continue to feel a need to limit my concerns and objections.  But learning does not happen only inside the classroom.  Waiting silently to be treated differently is unacceptable.

For LGBTQ families, being treated with fairness and simple dignity are issues that show-up in big and small ways every day.  It was our experience planning our wedding that prompted David and me to open Taylor Street Favors.  Much like our son’s form, signing up for wedding sites or shopping online usually required one of us to be listed as “the bride”.  Same-sex couple selections were buried in drop-drowns — if at all — and were limited in selection or accented with rainbows.

We are so not about rainbows for our wedding.

We knew we could do better – and we are.  Taylor Street is a site where no one is excluded.  We welcome and support those who treat others with respect, regardless of gender, race, sexual-orientation, or religious affiliation.  Discriminating on the basis of who we love is wrong.  Excluding a family because there are two moms or two dads is wrong.

I’m sending a note along with a copy of the form to the school’s principal and asking her to look into what can be done to have the district revise its forms.  As Ellen Degeneres said earlier this week, this is not politics, this is human rights.

We deserve better.


Posted on

You Put a Smile on Our Face…

David and I have been shopping for rings, so I have been getting lots of wedding band and engagement ring follow-up emails.  Most of these ads are focused entirely on brides — reflecting the reality of the wedding industry I know — but certainly not at all helpful or appealing to me.   Most barely acknowledge the existence of men and none were thoughtful, or proactive enough to consider two brides or two grooms…until now.

This ad is  A W E S O M E !   It arrived this morning from Blue Nile.

Thank you Blue Nile for your inclusive advertising!  Made our day here at Taylor Street.

Blue nile ad
Blue nile inclusive ad

We will shop your store and encourage modern couples to do the same.

Posted on

Gratitude For Beginners Post #2: Simple Pleasures


This practicing gratitude exercise is much more difficult than I had anticipated. In my effort to find a rhythm, a framework, topics, [anything!], I’ve scoured the internet (and my own well-intentioned collection of self-help, self-actualization and positivity books…).  I eventually found Marelisa Fabrega and her Daring to Live Fully site.  Maybe because her message is not too ooey-wooey, or maybe because she and I share an interest in Reiki, her writing voice and attitude clicked with me, and helped me to get unstuck.  She posted a series of gratitude prompts, and I plan to use some as a jumping off point — starting with today.  

I Am Grateful for These 3 Simple Pleasures

1. quiet time at 4:30 a.m.

Shout-out to my fellow 4:30 a.m.’ers.  I do not spring from bed at this hour.  It is not without a struggle that I slowly pull myself up and out.  Sometimes I am not successful and wait for a later 6 a.m. call-to-action.  But I am, nevertheless truly grateful for this quiet time of the day – often my only quiet time of the day.  I miss it when I don’t have it – and it shows…ask David.

2. morning walks with David and our dogs

As daily chores go, this one is complicated — involving multiple steps even before leaving the house.  It centers around a ritualized routine that I’ve given up trying to summarize for you as it is just too complicated and, I realize now, makes us sound batshit crazy.  Ultimately, David and I and the dogs end up on one of a few close-by routes.  Though sometimes David and I walk mostly in silence, more often we talk about the website, our son, wedding plans, aging parent issues, presidential elections — stuff.  What I am grateful for is the time together.  Time to enjoy our dogs.  Time that we are not distracted by our phones or our son.  Time that helps us to reconnect with each other, appreciate central California, and just talk.   A time that encourages us to slow down and be present.

3. right to marry the person I love

Just a few months ago we, and many inclusive, fair-minded adults around the U.S., were celebrating this giant step toward full equality as anything but a “simple pleasure.”  But really — when separated from the long and difficult struggle to achieve it — this right is the simplest of pleasures; one that most couples have not ever had to even think about not having.  It is so basic a right that it does not register as something to be grateful for being able to do.  I look forward to a time when same-sex couples need to be reminded to list the right to marry on their gratitude lists because it will have become so unsurprising and so unremarkable that it will be just as overlooked and taken-for-granted.

Next-up — finding three life lessons I am grateful to have already learned, I think.  

Posted on

Surprise Wedding in Hawaii for Gay Military Vets

How do you surprise a couple with the Hawaii wedding of their dreams in less than 10 hours? All they had to do was #LetHawaiiHappen.

Christian Alarid, 24, and Shayne Barnes, 27, went to Hawaii thinking they were taking part in a photoshoot for a marketing campaign. Hawaii’s Visitors and Conventions Bureau (HCVB)contacted the couple last year after they got engaged.

Posted on

Marriage Equality vs. Kentucky

Maria Blevins of Morehead, Ky., waves her sign at passing cars during a protest on the lawn of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. The rally, held by the Rowan County Rightas Coalition, brought roughly a hundred people to celebrate same sex marriage. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Maria Blevins of Morehead, Ky., waves her sign at passing cars during a protest on the lawn of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. The rally, held by the Rowan County Rightas Coalition, brought roughly a hundred people to celebrate same sex marriage. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Dear Ms. Davis,

I am sorry you have decided to not perform your job with the state of Kentucky and postponed the celebrations of a number of your residents.  I understand you are to process marriage license requests, issuing these to applicants from your state, not first determine who is worthy of being granted a license based on personal views.  You have not been asked or instructed to insert any particular requirements based on religiously held beliefs, have you?  You are paid to do your job with tax dollars, not church donations, right?

The individuals you are refusing to serve are not attacking your religious views, asking for your blessing, or inviting your church to be involved.  They simply are asking you to do your job as a public servant.

The U.S. Constitution is the rule of law in our society; we are not ruled by a collection of religious teachings.  Religious liberty is a guaranteed right in the U.S., and acts of civil disobedience have played an important role in our nation’s history.  But if you truly believe that what you are being asked to do is a violation of your faith, then I do not understand why you would want to stay in a job with clearly defined responsibilities that are in conflict with these cherished beliefs.  This makes me wonder what other motivations you may have.

We remind our son to use words to express his feelings.  In that spirit, know that your actions hurt.  Your decision to not issue marriage licenses is a form of disapproval.  Gay men and women are equally worthy and legally entitled to the rights and protections of a civil marriage license.  That issue has been decided.

I wish I knew how to help you appreciate that I sincerely do not believe same-sex marriages are a threat to your religious teachings or concept of marriage.  I believe quite the opposite.  There are many different meanings and interpretations of marriage and yours and mine do not have to agree for us to coexist.   To me, marriage is a defining ritual in our society, it’s much more than sex.  It includes friendship, child-rearing, companionship, and most importantly – a public declaration of love and commitment.

David and I strive for our business to be an outward expression of our desire to help encourage, inspire and celebrate declarations of love and commitment in all their diversity, including yours.  What are your actions an outward expression of, Ms. Davis?

Posted on

Equality Changes Everything


Image: The Gay Guide Network-American Pride

The final weekend of of this years Gay Pride Month in America has come to a close. Our family entered that last weekend with excitement over acceptance from the home we live in. And, let me tell you – equality changes everything. That day, June 26th, 2015, may not mean much to those who don’t understand the need to belong, to be accepted, or how it is to live in fear & rejection and yet, it seemed as if all of America took in one breath together and opened their eyes to another piece of themselves.

Not all of America was happy with this decision to fully recognize us as equals. But even so, it actually did get better. We can not be brushed to the side and beaten down and bible thumped back into the closet. We are all the way out. We are now a visible part of the fabric that binds this great nation together. We are equal in the eyes of the government. Somewhere a young LGBTQ person was just released from feeling like they did not matter. They were told that there is hope for the life you want to live and love is waiting for you out there. Equality matters.

America has not always been my friend. When I was young I was lost in the shadows of Americas morals. I felt wrong, misplaced, odd and alone. But, I held on. I hoped for more. I watched from the outside at a life I felt no relationship to. A life I thought I had no right to have. Can I get married? Can I have children? Can I find love? Can I find friends? I thought had to give up these four simple questions and accept that I may always be alone.

And here we are. Just (a little) over 30 years later. By making that choice to be my authentic self back then I was, over time, able to answer just three of those questions until last Friday, June 26th, 2015. Now don’t misunderstand, I knew Derek and I could get married here in California. That battle had been won. We were in the beginning stages of planning our “Big Gay Wedding”. But, that marriage would not have been recognized equally in every state of the republic like my heterosexual counterparts. We would not have really been equal.

That one thing, equality, does change everything. That pride I feel every June for who I am is no longer only stripes of a rainbow but of a combination of stars and rainbows. We have been woven together. Derek and I are no longer planning that “Big Gay Wedding” we are planning our wedding.

Posted on

Why Our Brand Is Out

Everything you want

One reason David and I started 
Taylor Street Favors was to leverage our experiences as gay men and as an adoptive family to support and encourage those whose lives resonate with ours. Too often, same sex couples still must search out reaffirming and supportive businesses and products, particularly when it comes to new territory like marriage equality and raising children. Negative and judgmental messages are part of our everyday. Most of these slights, taken in isolation, could be ignored, but added together they can become more potent and internalized.

For me, early morning impressions just feel bigger and stick longer. Phasers and filters are not fully functioning. That makes what happens during my 5:45 a.m. spin class a bigger deal. And since moving from Portland, Oregon to the central coast of California, I’ve noticed more than a change in the weather.

The spin instructor’s comment was intended as a joke about this area’s reputation as socially conservative. He was hoping to get a rise from the sleepy early morning crowd.  He did.  What followed his comment were a number of generic gay insult one-liners from a few of the men to my right. I was instantly transported back in time [a l-o-n-g way back] to re-experience as a young adult that vague sense of shame and embarrassment for being who I am — guess one’s chronological age doesn’t mean much when it comes to being the butt of jokes and ridicule. I didn’t notice anything from the women in the room. Either these men were too loud, the room was too dark or — hopefully — the more evolved sex of our species just didn’t think the comments were funny or appropriate. I doubt anyone in the room intended to offend.

This was a great example of a mind-set — homophobia — so baked into our culture that it passes for acceptable banter. Reinforced for me that a business like Taylor Street Favors, with an intentionally inclusive and welcoming message, can make a difference. Being able to shop at a store that intentionally presents the LGBTQ community and modern family celebrations in positive, everyday displays matters. It matters not just to gays and lesbians, but also to our friends, our families, our children. It matters to our future.

What happened next got me up and over. The woman on my left caught my eye and let me know with just the slightest roll-of-her-eye all was well and she was glad I was spinning next to her. I returned to the moment. We had our imaginary riders to chase down in front of us and the instructor was already telling us to stomp on those pedals and dig-deep.

You can guess the group I imagined in front of me as I passed without looking back.