Growing Up Hayden


We’ve named our blog, Growing Up Hayden because we feel it’s a testament to what it is to live in the now, in a world where the LGBT community is fighting for acceptance and equality.  Our content is focused on all aspects of what it is to live, love and thrive in what’s still a very judgmental world.  Growing Up Hayden is a live narrative that we hope will continue to illustrate positive changes and a more and more loving, open and welcoming world.

A Tale of Multiple Daddies

A Tale of Multiple Daddies

“You have two daddies too!” These are the words I overhead a little girl say to my son the other night. Hayden responded, “Yay I do!” Solidification for coming to Family Week – Check.

Last Saturday we arrived in Provincetown on Cape Cod. A city we’ve come to know well. Six years ago we visited looking for a place to get married, five years ago we tied the knot here and a few years ago we celebrated the ten year anniversary of our first date. Fond memories have come out of this seaside village town but this week brings it to a whole new level.

We decided to come to Family Week to give our son a chance to see other families that look just like his, in a way we simply wanted to normalize our family. We are proud to live in a country where most families don’t look alike, however, sadly for our son he never sees his parents hold hands or kiss in public. Some kids have a mom and a dad, some kids are raised by single parents. For our kiddo growing up in Florida, there aren’t too many two-dad families passing by.


We’ve reached a point in our society where marriage equality is now legal for all nationwide, but all too often we come across stories advocating against these rights or we hear politicians showcasing their concern for the loss of traditional family values. As I meet all of the incredible families throughout this week all I can think is, traditional family values aren’t lost – they are right here, at Family Week. From bonfires on the beach, to cookouts, to face-painting in the park, to afternoon ice cream and strolls on the pier – it seems family values are alive and well. We came here to normalize our family to our son, but it turns out our love and the values we’ve already instilled in him are the best gifts of all.


Safe Swimming in Summer

Safe Swimming in Summer

Summer is upon us and we’re all staying cool by laying out at the beach and lounging by the pool. These leisure time activities all involve innocent fun in the water, but inevitably we all read those stories of summertime tragedy, especially with young children. The hard fact is that drowning is the leading cause of injury related death among children between one and four years old and it’s the second leading cause of injury related death among all children. So I took this opportunity to talk to Nick Rubino who owns Sea Star Swim Academy in Orlando, Florida and is a featured listing on Hayden’s List. We discussed his inspiration for swim education, water safety and his commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all his students.

Nick was born in upstate New York. During this time his school took Nick’s classes to field trips to farms and was around horses and jockeys. His first vacation to Orlando and eventually moving there in high school brought water into his life. Nick was not a member of any swim teams in high school or college. In fact, he didn’t start swimming until his late teens. Nick believes this is what makes him very relatable to his students, especially his adult students. After training dolphins, whales, sea lions and many other aquatic animals at SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and the Florida Aquarium he wanted his career to continue inspire and contribute to the greater good and he also wanted to be an entrepreneur. This led to Nick starting the Sea Star Swim Academy and working with Swimming for Life.

Nick’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to start Sea Star Swim Academy. At Sea Star Swim Academy, Nick provides lesson from babies to adults on how to swim safely. By working with Swimming for Life, Nick is able to give back to the community. Swimming for Life is an organization in Lake County, Florida that provides swim lessons and water safety skills and education scholarships to families with financial limitations, families that adopt and foster, families that take in children with special circumstances and for individuals with special needs. Nick enjoys working with Swimming for Life because it not only provides an important skill and safety but builds confidence in young children in and out of the water. Nick’s strong belief in the mission of Swimming for Life has led him to start his own chapter in Orange County, Florida. With help from the Dawn Brancheau Foundation and the City of Orlando, Nick is expanding the program in 2017.

Sea Star Academy’s website offers many tips for water safety for in the home, swimming and boating. Nick’s number one rule for water safety is for parents/guardians: “If your child is in the pool, your eyes are on your child and you’re in arm’s reach”. Cell phones and other electronic devices are huge distractions for parents watching children by water. Nick begins each swim lesson with children by having the child ask his/her parent for permission to enter the pool. This instills the habit in the child to ask permission to swim and makes the parent aware that the child is going in the pool. Nick also has the child bring his/her parent a tag and this tag has water safety tips that can be brought home.

I also asked Nick about an issue I’ve read about on social media this summer, secondary drowning or dry drowning. This can happen when your child breathes water into his/her lungs, it can happen while swimming or playing in the water. It is more common in children because of their small size. Nick states that a secondary or dry drowning is very rare and WebMD states they make up only 1% – 2% of all drownings. To avoid secondary or dry drowning, Nick teaches his young pupils about blowing bubbles holding their breath so not to ingest water. However with babies and submersion lessons, Nick follows Red Cross guidelines which are no more than 3 submersions per lesson and stops submersions immediately after a pupil comes up coughing. Nick uses a slower methodical lesson plan compared to other programs.

How did Nick establish Sea Star Academy as such an inclusive environment that a LGBT mom group reached out to him to do a “Mommy & Me” group swim lesson? It started when Nick was teaching swim lessons in Tampa and child came in with his gay dads. Nick saw the looks that other instructors and parents gave the dads. It hit Nick that he wanted his business to be welcoming to all members of his community. Besides the “Mommy & Me” group, Sea Star Swim Academy gives lessons to multiple LGBT families. Nick says “I’m a comfortable, safe place, where you can bring your family”. And knowing that his students and their families know his inclusive policy it helps Nick feel comfortable being out with his husband also.

A big thank you to Nick for being so welcoming with Sea Star Swim Academy. For more information on Nick and the Sea Star Swim Academy, check out the listing on Hayden’s List here.

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Sydney Lights Up for LGBT

In Sydney they’re giving serious thought to safety, after the Orlando attacks.  The local government has begun several initiatives to better support the LGBT community, one of which is to review lighting in public spaces.

According to, “Everyone has the right to feel safe and free to walk our City’s streets and enjoy our City’s night life without fear of abuse or for their physical safety,’ Scott said. ‘Improving lighting in areas experiencing high rates of assault at night has been shown to be an evidence based strategy in reducing incidences of night time assaults.’”
She added: ‘I know many still do not feel safe on our city streets. It’s 2016. Hate speech and violence on our streets must stop now.’ – Read more here!

Stonewall Now a National Park

There’s no doubt about it, making the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City is a gesture of healing and heart.  Declaring the tavern as the country’s first national monument to LGBT rights and history is especially powerful in the wake of Orlando’s tragedy.

“I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country— the richness and diversity, and the uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one,” Obama said in a video released by the White House.

Watch the video announcing the monument here.

Orlando Not a Hate Crime?

That’s right.  According to the FBI, there’s no proof that Orlando was a hate crime.  This, to us, is perplexing.  Both the language and the reasoning.  Shouldn’t any crime involving the killing of another human being is considered a “hate crime?”  In any case, we believe that there is proof.  The forty-nine who were shot dead and the fifty-three who were injured.  It’s with love that we list the names of those lost to anger and hate.

  • Stanley Almodovar III, 23
  • Amanda Alvear, 25
  • Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
  • Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33
  • Antonio D. Brown, 30
  • Darryl R. Burt II, 29
  • Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
  • Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
  • Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
  • Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
  • Luis D. Conde, 39
  • Cory J. Connell, 21
  • Tevin E. Crosby, 25
  • Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
  • Deonka D. Drayton, 32
  • Mercedez M. Flores, 26
  • Juan R. Guerrero, 22
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
  • Paul T. Henry, 41
  • Frank Hernandez, 27
  • Miguel A. Honorato, 30
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
  • Jason B. Josaphat, 19
  • Eddie J. Justice, 30
  • Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
  • Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
  • Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
  • Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
  • Akyra Monet Murray, 18
  • Kimberly Morris, 37
  • Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
  • Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
  • Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
  • Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
  • Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
  • Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
  • Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
  • Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
  • Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
  • Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
  • Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
  • Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
  • Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22
  • Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
  • Jerald A. Wright, 31



The latest in the American comic show of politics?  Trump nominates his sidekick: Pence.

Aside from the fact he signed RFRA, (which you’ll recall as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that allowed businesses and individuals in Indiana to deny services to LGBTI people)  We think you might like to know some more facts about Pence:

Pence also opposed birthright citizenship (the legal principle set forth by the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution that all persons born on U.S. soil are citizens).

Last we heard a politician’s interest should be with the people.  So far, we haven’t read much about how Pence helps people.  So much for “making America great again.”

Rainbow Patrol

Rainbow Patrol

On July 8, students and staff gathered at the University of Central Florida as the campus’ police department displayed their mark of respect to the victims of the Pulse shooting. “This is our commitment to diversity and to the community that we support and we’re not the least bit afraid to show that support.” UCF Police Chief Richard Beary said.

The new police car is being called the Pride Car with ‘Police’ in rainbow colors and the hashtag #OrlandoStrong. “To me, it’s just another effort that we’re out here for everybody, not just one particular group of people.” said Peter Osterrieder, the UCF police officer who is driving the vehicle.

On July 13, the Orlando Police Department unveiled their memorial police cruiser on Twitter. The hood of the vehicle lists the names of all 49 victims from the Pulse nightclub attack. Orlando Police Department spokesperson, Michelle Guido, states “It’s Vehicle No. 49, a tribute to our community, forever changed by the Pulse tragedy.” The department anticipates the car will be ready for the road next week.

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