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

Build it and They Had Better Come: Wedding Website Builders

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 1.56.22 PM

It is an expectation now that you have a website dedicated to your wedding.  Yes, it is.

There are advantages – for example, much less information must be crammed onto the invitation or the RSVP card.  This allows for more interesting and creative invites [we are using wood!], and some couples are doing away with invites altogether (stationery companies are not fans). Wedding websites provide space to share some of yourselves and your individual personalities with family and guests – something paper invites never could.  Given roughly 1/2 of the guest list likely will not know 1/2 of the couple very well, this can be lots of fun, and work.  Just what a couple does not need — another very big, time-consuming & decision filled requirement to check-off “the list”.

At least, that’s how David and I approached this chore.  Then we started researching and discovered that it gets worse.  Before we could decide what to include on our site, we needed to decide what software we would use to build our site.  Another decision in front of the decision…decision-making fatigue arrived.

I took a few hours, did my research, a bit of reading and then tried a few sites, figuring I at least could write about my experience.  Here is what I considered and how we decided.


I initially looked at theknot, weddingwire and mywedding — 3 offerings that are essentially “free”.  Each one is serviceable and easy to use, but I was looking for a more customizable design with more content flexibility, so I moved on.   Note that some of their designs have coordinated invitations too, which we did not want, but you may.

Even though weddingwire did offer same-sex couple templates, I was disappointed that the “same-sex” templates themselves were filled with opposite-sex couples and hokey same-sex restroom icons. It could have been a design oversight on their part, but given their website building tool lists same-sex as a specific style, the lack of follow-through was a big turn-off for us.

Any one of these three would save you time because they are more plug-and-play than these others I considered.

Modest cost

AppyCouple ($39-69 one time) This was the tool I initially chose.  I paid the fee [which they promptly refunded without any questions] and started designing.  I quickly decided that I was not ready for our ceremony to be reduced to an “app.”  They have a web version too, and I get that the world is quickly being reduced to what can be viewed on a screen the size of your palm, but I was not enjoying the design process or the resulting 3” x 5” product, so I moved on to…

WeddingWoo ($49 for one year) This is the company we decided on ultimately.  Strengths – web based, but mobile-friendly with plenty of design flexibility for the non-programmer types [me].  I could hide pages I didn’t need and create entirely new pages and call them whatever I wanted.  Ultimately what hooked me was how intuitive most of the design-decision making was.  The end result is a unique site customized sufficiently that our event doesn’t look like a round peg pounded into a square box.  Weakness – really wish I didn’t have to send people to “weddingwoo”, but in their defense, I could spend a bit more money and create my own url.


Riley & Grey ($35/month) Whoa.  This website builder creates the most beautiful wedding sites – hands down winner in terms of first impressions.  I found lots of inspiration in their templates, but felt overwhelmed with the number of decisions I needed to make in order to get the website up and running.   Though I could have hidden pages or added an “under construction” page to certain areas, their functionality offered more flexibility than our event requires.  It was overkill for us. They also have THE BEST “Our story” page I’ve looked at recently.  Go ahead, check it out.

Any of these will bring logic to your logistics, and a personality to your wedding before anyone ever arrives.  I ended-up enjoying (mostly) the process of creating our WeddingWoo site, and that takes some doing now days. Made me take care of a few things I hadn’t yet finalized [hotel block of rooms], which was a good thing.

If you’ve got a site builder you love, or one to avoid, let me know.  I’m building a master check list and will include what I can.

That’s our home page at the top of this post – nice, huh! 


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 1 Comment

We thought it’d be cool to celebrate our 10th year with our wedding. Well guess what?

David and Derek from Taylor Street Favors

Derek and I have been partners for almost 10 years. Our ten year mark is somewhere hidden within the 2016 year so we thought it might be cool to celebrate our 10 years with our wedding date. We’ve never quite pinned down the exact date because we can’t find “THE” date that made sense to celebrate. Gays have had to be creative with anniversary dates. Rent U-haul /move in day or our first debut at the club as a couple day… and on they go. Good times. We needed a wedding date so we had to decide. As we wandered through the year of our meeting we considered:

  1. The date we first met. We met sometime in the spring of 2006 at the gym. For a while we probably just said hi or smiled at each other before making actual conversation. Neither of us could remember an exact day, so that one was out.
  2. Our first full-on conversation: I won’t go into any awkward details here but I will say it lead to our first “date”.
  3. Our first “date”. We can’t remember the actual day but boy do we remember the “date”. Two hours of actually watching a DVD, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”; slowly finding our way to a cuddle which then lead to kissing and well you get the picture. We do know this was sometime in April just before my, now our, son’s first birthday.
  4. Our 2nd, 3rd or 4th date. Sometime in October. These were actual dates. One of them was Dinner at a Sushi restaurant on Beverly in LA —thank you Noshi Sushi! We saw Colin Ferguson from Eureka there and he became our touchstone to the moment. Chopped fish and Jack Carter. Pretty romantic. Cash only.
  5. The first time we said “I love you”. This one we do know. January 1st, 2007 at 12:01:01 AM. Some moments deserve their own special date, so we left that alone too.

The point ends up being we could not really choose one overly romantic moment over the other. So we decided to pick a date that has meant something to us as long as we’ve known each other. A date that combines much of who we are — a family. We chose June 19th, 2016 – Fathers Day.

We are dads. It’s something we love being. We love being a family, with us, our son, two dogs and a water bug named Shawn our son keeps in a jar. We love having family dinner together [most] every night and talking about our day even when our son doesn’t want to talk…especially then. We love movie nights with the three of us on the couch staring at the TV; dogs sleeping on the floor next to one of us. We love flying kites and game night. We love shuffling our son to school or soccer. We love all of it.

Ok so I just re-read all that and it does sound a little perfect pollyanna. So don’t get me wrong, we don’t love it all – all the time. Those “other” moments are for a separate blog post – a bottle of wine and a quiet & kid-free house post.

Anyway, It’s who we are. We are dads. Fathers Day seemed like the perfect fit. It will be the best father’s day gift ever.

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

Marriage, Parenting and Connection

Some of my friends are already bouncing grandchildren on their knees.  Looking ahead, they’ll be living a quiet retirement while I’ll be helping my younger son move into his college dorm room.  And currently, I’m planning a wedding while juggling the demands of growing a new business and co-parenting a 10 year old.  I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.  But, when empty-nester friends announce their return from yet another European adventure and my major accomplishment has been arranging logistics for my son’s soccer team’s first fall tournament while simultaneously participating in a webinar on making my twitter feed “more awesome,” I admit to feeling a bit envious. 

As an older parent, I am more motivated than bothered by my chronological age.  This is a second round of child-rearing for me.  As someone who is HIV+, I’ve stared down a premature death already, so I tell myself “you’ve got this” and quickly whistle past the graveyard.  My life expectancy is 76.4 years, which means I have, on average, about 20 more years ahead of me.   Plenty of time — a life time in fact.  Mostly this perspective is empowering, but sometimes societal expectations for what life ought to look like at 30, 40, 50 and beyond get the better of me and I begin to feel overwhelmed and discouraged by what can feel like a “younger person’s game.”  What do I do at these moments?  I eat chocolate and go get inspired…

My 100% sure fire resources:

1.  Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

2.  Brene BrownThe Power of Vulnerability [TED]

3.  Shawn AchorThe happy secret to better work [TED]

4.  Wayne DyerThe power of intention

…and the most recent addition to my inspiration library…

5.  Neil Pasricha –  The 3 A’s of awesome [TED]

These people remind me that it is not success that creates happiness, it is happiness [positivity] that creates success. That by focusing on those awesome moments in each day I will create “ripples of positivity” that will continue to reverberate in ways I can not possibly anticipate.  That I am never too old unless I think I am.  That feeling uncertain and unclear is not only okay – it is necessary for growth and change.  It takes courage.   That our ability to connect with each other gives purpose and meaning to our lives and that to connect deeply we must first believe we are worthy of connection.

These people and their amazing talks remind me of why David and I created Taylor Street Favors, to inspire friends and family to celebrate life – their unique lives, on their terms.  And while the reason for the celebration is important, what is most important is the sense of worth and connection that we all feel when we connect with each other.

Happy Monday!