AS GRADUATE STUDENTS at OSU, Tara and Tayo first crossed paths when they both served on the staff of one of the university’s summer institutes. Tayo was the coordinator of the program when the program’s director recommended Tara as an ideal candidate for the teaching team. At the time Tara, a ceramic artist, was out of town doing a residency at a brick factory. No cell phone signal meant she was impossible to reach in the weeks leading up to the first meeting of the teaching team. Tayo was worried that Tara had lost interest in the job, but was intrigued when he heard of what was keeping her: “I just knew she was going to show up to our first meeting in a flannel shirt in overalls,” he says.
When their meeting finally did happen, Tara appeared to be nothing like Tayo’s expectations. “When I walked into the café and she stood up to shake my hand, I was a little dazed by how beautiful she was,” admits Tayo. “I tried to be professional, but I definitely found myself rambling from time to time.”
That day happened to be Tayo’s 30th birthday, and Tara was surprised he was having a work meeting. “I remember thinking that Tayo was very warm, and I wanted to spend more time with him,” recalls Tara.
Tara and Tayo’s meeting was special – they were engaged in a project together that they were both very passionate about.
| AMY TANNENBAUM
When they took their friendship to the next level it was because they both agreed (and had an unspoken agreement for some time) that they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. The next step was presenting that to their families and loved ones – in the form of two separate wedding celebrations.
“We had two weddings because same-sex marriage isn’t legal in the state of Ohio, and it was very important to me that we be legally married,” explains Tayo. “For me, our first marriage was a way to communicate to my family in particular how sacred and special our relationship is, and it was important to me that they get it.” Tara and Tayo were legally married in a small, beautiful ceremony in Massachusetts, in Tara’s parents’ backyard.
Tara and Tayo had a much larger religious ceremony in Columbus for their friends and family. “The second ceremony was different because it was about telling Tara’s family and friends that they could count on me to love her and take good care of her,” says Tayo.
“For me the Columbus wedding was also about introducing Tayo to my larger community, extended family and framily, friends who have known me since way back when, and having them welcome him as part of our family, too,” says Tara. “It was like a big welcome party.”
Planning two weddings gave Tayo and Tara the opportunity to share meaningful conversations with each other. They each come from very different backgrounds and traditions. “There isn’t really a template for Jewish/African American/queer weddings,” says Tayo. Tara adds, “We couldn’t take a single ritual for granted. We developed ceremonies that were intimate, personal and deeply meaningful.”
“I think what makes a really great wedding is when you have two people who are going to live happy and healthy lives together, and for this reason, I think we had two really, really great weddings,” says Tara.
The next chapter of their lives is around the corner as they prepare to welcome a child in June. They are deep in nesting mode, trying to be ready for her.
“I’m surprised by how fun pregnancy is,” says Tara. “Even any uncomfortable symptoms I might have are just a reminder of this wonderful thing that we have to look forward to.” Tayo enthusiastic feeling: “Everyday I’m amazed that I love someone so much who I haven’t even met yet.”
All along their journey together and as they look forward to what the future brings, Tara and Tayo find themselves on the same wavelength, always laughing. Tayo describes their relationship as “best friends who laugh together.”
Before they got together, Tara thought that relationships by definition had to involve a lot of difficult compromise. She says, “I’ve learned from our time together that compromise doesn’t feel like giving anything up when you’re both on the same team.”