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Kerrie Title_key Sam

Real Wedding
gallery May 17 2017
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A Cincinnati Ceremony

Tell us your love story!

We met at the Art Academy of Cincinnati as freshmen, initially at a barbeque in the back alley of the dorms. I was immediately attracted to Sam but it seemed as if our paths would never cross. In all the classes we shared, we were always on opposite sides of the studio but as the classes progressed we became friends through our unspoken competition with each other. We took the time to accept and understand the other, helping each other find a reason to laugh in the best and worst of times, solidifying our friendship, and uncovering deeper feelings. When we returned to school for our second semester, we switched roommates to live together. The time alone gave us the chance to provide each other enough security that we were both able to face ourselves, to discover who we were and who we wanted to be. The semester was filled with family dinners, late night snack runs, thoughtful surprises, and more care than either of us could have anticipated. We spent the following summer apart, Sam working to accept her feelings and me working to forget, both of us desperately missing each other. As soon as we got back to school, the feelings were immediately undeniable for us both. So we jumped, sharing every aspect of our lives together for four years, still in the closet, continuing to solidify how intense our feelings were for each other. We decided to come out to our families after graduation. The freedom to love and live openly tremendously deepened our love, we then had the opportunity for our life together to be seen and shared for the first time.

What about the proposal?

Two months after marriage equality passed, and after being together for five years, I proposed. It was important to both of us that I get her Dad’s permission, without hesitation and a huge hug, he said yes. I knew I wanted the proposal to be a complete surprise but I also wanted to ask her in the alley where we met. This involved an elaborate story about a fake art instillation the school wanted me to take part in as a way to revitalize the dorms. I asked Sam to meet me after and I’d take her out for dinner. The night before Sam started asking a few too many questions, becoming increasingly suspicious of our dinner date. I threw myself into the act and convinced her I hadn’t even found her ring. After being together for so many years, she suggested I just buy a vending machine ring and propose with that, so naturally her ring box was a toy capsule from a vending machine.

After Sam’s friends and family had all arrived and were safely tucked back into the alley, roses in hand, I texted her to come pick me up for dinner. She took her sweet time walking down and reluctantly followed me out into the alley to “gather my things”. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she turned the corner into the alley to find her friends and family, realizing what was happening despite having been convinced otherwise the night before. We shared a really special moment together and then pulling out the toy capsule, I dropped to a knee and asked her to marry me.

When did you know that you were meant to be with each other?

We both knew right away that we would be in each other’s life indefinitely but we knew we were meant to be together because we made each other laugh in the midst of difficult circumstance, we celebrated small successes together, and being the self-reliant people that we both are – we allowed each other to take care of the other. All in all, we fell in love with our very best friend and couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.

Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?

Being the creative people that we are, we knew from the start that we wanted to create the whole experience together. We wanted a timeless wedding. We wanted to design our own invitations. We wanted to make our own flower arrangements. We knew we wanted a small, outdoor wedding that celebrated who we are and the nature of our love. We knew we wanted our wedding party to be as comfortable as possible, to pick a color and let them choose what they would wear. We knew we would have an unplugged ceremony. We also agreed early on that the number one thing we wanted from the day – other than our marriage – was exceptional photography.

What surprised you during planning?

Our planning process was amazing. We approached it as we would have approached an art project. Every aspect of our wedding was a complete collaboration and combination of our styles. We created a timeline for ourselves and stuck to it – but we enjoyed working on it together so much, we were done months in advance. We did run into some vendors who were unwilling to work with a gay wedding but in their place, we found the most amazing, kind, warm-hearted, accepting people who were more than willing to take our business. The most difficult things for us was dealing with unsupportive family as well as finding a venue that was accepting and available for our date. We ended up changing our date to the Sunday after the day we wanted just to get our location. It worked out perfectly! We married the day after our sixth anniversary, the first day of our seventh year together, and it was significantly less expensive than getting married on that Saturday. The easiest decision for us was hands down choosing our photographer. As soon as we found Cass, we knew she was the perfect person not only to capture our day but also to add so much love and care to it as well.

Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?

We have some members of our family who love us but who do not support our relationship or our marriage. We wish we could have known the toll that would take on us both so that we could have been more aware of the ways it might manifest.

Another thing we didn’t think about was planning a honeymoon – we wish we had picked a date according to the location we wanted to visit. Our wedding date put us in the middle of most stormy seasons in the honeymoon locations we considered. We opted to take a mini-moon and planned a honeymoon for our one-year anniversary.

Any advice for couples planning weddings now?

When planning a gay wedding it’s sometimes difficult to see yourself in the traditions that people expect of weddings but that’s kind of the best part. Use as much tradition in your day as you want but also don’t hesitate to create something completely new that fits you and your love. For all the traditions we kept, we got creative more than anything. We arranged our ceremony in a circle with no sides and were surrounded by unconditional love the whole day. We wrote a passage to our guests that our Officiant read during the ceremony describing what it’s like to live and love in secret for so many years. It explained why we married on a hilltop – our mountain climb together through all those years in the closet were culminating that day as we married on that mountain top together.

If you find that you have unsupportive family, one thing we found really helpful was just to allow yourself to have really emotional moments, to mourn the loss of having those people present for those moments rather than to ignore their absence. It might sound trite but it allowed us the opportunity to process and move on so we were able to focus on how incredibly happy we were to marry each other.

Everybody says it but the day really does fly by, we did everything we could to be present in every second. Someone told us to hold the other’s hand the entire day so no matter where you are, you’re experiencing it together.

Last thing don’t underestimate the meaning and gravity of your wedding. As we walked out of the courthouse, marriage license in hand, we turned to find tears in each other’s eyes. We could not be more thankful for the people who came before us, who fought for our right to legally wed. Every step of the way, we kept those people and our community’s history present in our hearts and minds, the result was an incredibly emotional, loving, celebratory release.

What was your favorite part of your wedding day?

Our favorite part of the day was definitely the ceremony. We asked our dear friend to officiate for us and she wrote the most beautiful, personal message specific to our story. The four people that stood up for us both were also the only people who knew about our relationship before we came out to our families. We asked them to share a message as well during the ceremony in lieu of toasts. Their words and the things they chose to share were so incredibly heart felt and the most precious of gifts. Sam and I stayed so present in each moment of the ceremony and just allowed their sentiments to further elevate the moment for us.

My other favorite moment was after the ceremony and after we’d greeted our guests. I pulled Sam away from everyone and took a moment just the two of us. It was a suggestion that was given to me moments before the ceremony started and I’m so glad I took it. It gave us a chance to catch a shared breath and fully realize that we were truly, legally, married. And it gave us both a chance to obsess over the details of the other’s dress!  

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Tagged: cassandra zetta photography, cincinnati
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Love & Sex
gallery May 16 2017
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Meet O.school, the Pleasure Resistance

It may have been awhile since you thought about this, but sexual education generally sucks. Beyond the fact that it isn't even required everywhere and some schools are allowed to straight up lie, when it is done "properly" it typically focuses exclusively on hetero relationships and preventing disease. In other words, there's no mention of consent, pleasure or sex between folks of the same or diverse genders.

All of which can leave queer folks in a lurch when looking for answers to questions about our sex lives. This bare landscape is what led Latishia James, a self-described queer chaplain gone rogue and reproductive justice activist, to join the team creating O.school, a radical pleasure education platform.

"We want to create a safe space for women and gender-diverse people to unlearn a lot of the homophobic, transphobic and fatphobic myths that keep us from having fulfilling sex lives," Latishia, O.school's chief operating officer, explained. "We also want to amplify the work of educators who are doing this great sex and pleasure education all around the country."

O.school's platform offers live video streams and live chat with instructors who guide students through a diverse range of classes. The courses focus on unlearning shame, demystifying orgasms, being an ethical slut, enhancing intimate partnerships, learning about kink and sex after life-altering events like assault or pregnancy. (O.school is currently in closed beta, but interested readers can sign up for the wait list here.)

The site welcomes all, but centers women and gender-diverse folks. The founding team is comprised mostly of women—four of whom are queer and two of whom are women of color.

"As a queer woman, I don't have lots of resources for pleasure education created for queer women, by queer women," said Latishia. "That dearth of resources is really what motivates the O.school team to build this platform that solves for this issue."

As COO, Latishia is tasked with the nuts and bolts of O.school's many moving parts, including recruiting and encouraging its talented cast of sex and pleasure instructors. There's Afrosexology, two Black womyn pleasure advocates and activists whose courses center on creating a more sex-positive Black community through unlearning cultural shame; Sarah Brynn Holliday, a queer feminist sex blogger who teaches about how to reclaim your body after sexual trauma using sex toy; Mia Li is a self-identified queer, first-generation Filipinx who helps students demsystify the orgasm and many others.

"Our instructors are the heart of O.school," said Latishia. "We look for people from all kinds of backgrounds who can speak to a variety of experiences and talk to their students, not at their students."

The courses, too, represent a wide range of topics having to do with the body. Recent streams have centered around the relationship between sex and eating disorders, thriving after herpes and PrePing for pleasure, which is a guide to enjoying your sex-life even if you are at a high-risk for developing HIV.

"Now more than ever, it's so important to practice self-care and resistance. Pleasure can be a really powerful tool for both," said Latishia.

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Sneak Peek
gallery May 16 2017
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Josh Title_key Craig

Real Wedding
gallery May 15 2017
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South Beach Babes

Tell us your love story!

We met in early 2010 through a mutual friend, but didn’t start dating until late 2012. It’s honestly not a very exciting story, we really should come up with something super romantic and sweet to tell strangers that ask or if we have children one day!

What about the proposal?

Josh decided he wanted to ask Craig to marry him the summer of 2015. We talked about marriage earlier that year, and once the Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality happened in June, we knew it was the right time. We went ring shopping, just to look, and Josh ended up buying Craig his favorite. We had planned a summer trip to Culebra, in Puerto Rico, and Craig thought Josh would ask at that time. Josh knew Craig’s suspicions, so he had another plan.

A couple of weeks before our Culebra trip, a good friend of Craig’s was coming to visit, and we ended up going to the Florida Keys. Josh reached out to his friend and said he wanted to propose in the Keys, at Craig’s favorite beach, Bahia Honda.

The time came and Craig got so nervous he started to run away! After his friend and Josh starting laughing, he came back, put the ring on, said yes, and the rest is history.

When did you know that you were meant to be with each other?

In 2012, we both lived in Dallas, Texas. After a few months of dating, Josh was offered a job in Austin, a good 3-4 hour drive from Dallas. We were a bit unsure of what was going to happen, but we were determined to make it work, and make it a point to see each other at least twice per month. There was nothing that was going to break us apart, and our love for each other grew tremendously during that time. It’s pretty cliché, but absence does make the heart grow fonder. Josh then got a job offer in Miami, and we decided to start a new life in a new city together. We both love the outdoors, particularly the beach and ocean. There was no better place for us to do this.

Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?

We knew we wanted it to be a destination for our guests, so having it in Miami, where we live, made the most sense since it would make planning so much easier.  We wanted a small and intimate wedding, less than 50 people.  It also had to be outdoors.  We knew the colors had to be all of the beautiful shades of color the ocean offers.

What surprised you during planning?

Planning is a true test of patience and compromise. There are so many details that you may get caught up in, but you learn to pick and choose which things are most important to each other. Choosing the menu was the easiest part; we had a buffet of all of our favorite food, even if it didn’t go together! All of our guests loved it. The difficult part was making time to plan and make decisions. Living very busy lives can make it difficult, but ensure you set time aside each week during the planning process to make key decisions.

Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?

Start with a budget in your head, then multiply it times 3. That will be what you actually spend. It’s one day in your life that’s all about the two of you, so don’t leave something out that would make your day magical. Your vendors will usually help you with creative alternatives to keep the cost down. You only live once, right? Had we known that ahead of time, it would’ve gone a bit easier and decisions wouldn’t have been so difficult to make.

Any advice for couples planning weddings now?

For couples planning their weddings now, be patient, compromise, and make all decisions together so there are no surprises. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the planning process, it’s something you will only do once!

What was your favorite part of your wedding day?

Of course it goes without saying, being amongst our family and best friends, and standing in front of each other professing our love was so very emotional and the best part of the day. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing. We visited with friends and family throughout that day before we got ready, which actually calmed our nerves, I think we will always remember that. The reveal of our reception room completely shocked us. After months of planning the set up, we never dreamed it would look as breathtaking as it did.     

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Tagged: grooms, florida, miami, south beach, the w south beach, todd good photography , petal productions, ike behar
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Weekend Snapshot
gallery May 12 2017
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