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.

HL’s Advocate of the Week: Kyle Pugh of Birmingham, Alabama


Congratulations to HL’s Advocate of the Week: Kyle Pugh of Birmingham, Alabama

What did Kyle have to say about Hayden’s List?

“I love having Hayden’s List in my community because as a person living in the Deep South many times our allies are not as “out” and noticeable as they could be even if their intentions are great! Likewise, our enemies are often wolves in sheep’s clothing! Hayden’s list helps us to choose wisely when trying to support those businesses that support our community! I use it weekly and refer friends to it daily!”

How has Kyle advocated for Hayden’s List?

Kyle is the President of Central Alabama Pride and has been instrumental in helping Hayden’s List come out in his community, through local events and by submitting numerous local reviews!

Thanks Kyle, for advocating for us in your community!

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Check Out These Two Handsome Devils

This past weeFullSizeRenderkend Josh and Scott Tayloe attended the 11th Annual LA Awards at the swanky Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel to celebrate the Family Equality Council’s achievements.  Among those who were honored was Houston Mayor, Annise Parker, an openly lesbian politician working to make big Texas-sized strides in LGBT family rights.  Other attendees were Hollywood writers and actors of both Modern Family and Glee, the very important people who’ve helped bring this subject matter into living rooms across America and on a global scale.

Hayden’s List is a proud supporter of Family Equality Council and can’t wait to see the day when all families are protected.


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Aren’t You Afraid Everyone Will Think You’re a Lesbian?

Recently I was talking with an acquaintance of mine about my involvement with Hayden’s List.  After I explained our mission — to direct the LGBT community and its supporters to those with open doors, she goes, “Aren’t you afraid everyone will think you’re a lesbian?”

I laughed.  What made it even funnier is that she, the question-asker herself, was a lesbian.  Yet to say that this never crossed my mind would be a total lie.  In fact, when I told my mother about HL, she didn’t pose this as a question but an actual fact saying, “You know everyone’s going to think you’re a lesbian.”  To which I responded, “So?”  My mother shrugged.  She said, “Ah you’re right.  Who cares?  So what?  It’s not like it’s a bad thing.”  My mother, a southerner from another generation, pleasantly surprised me.  Even if she’d had a problem with it, she knows me well enough to know that she’d be the one to have to get over it and get okay with it.

Not long ago I dated a guy who came from a very conservative background.  As a native Texan with parents from the bible belt, I’d say that I came from a very conservative upbringing.  But his childhood and early adulthood was even more sheltered, vacuum sealed from sinful-like things such as certain movies, alcohol or even coffee and tea.  In comparison to mine, his pious life up until a few years before meeting me made me and my life look like it could have been a hit reality TV show: Texan Catholic Goody-Goody Girls Gone Wild.  Needless to say I was curious as to what his reaction would be when I told him about Hayden’s List.

Of course, because he was awesome and enlightened, his response was awesome and enlightened.  He loved it.  (Just like my mother, it’s not like he really had a choice.  He’d either get okay with it or mosey on.)  But really.  He loved me and because he loved me, he also loved Hayden’s List.  It’s a part of me — something I whole-heartedly believe in and put my time and energy into.  Why wouldn’t he embrace that?  Still, there was that tiny doubt in the back of my mind that he might not.

The reason why I bring this up is because I feel it’s important.  There are so many times when we shy back or step down or keep quiet just because we’re afraid of what other people will think of us.  Read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” about how women in general, regardless of sexual orientation or nationality, are proven to take on an apologetic disposition or demeanor in comparison to our male counterparts.

It does not upset me on a personal level when people ask me if I’m afraid of being labeled a lesbian just by merely associating myself with Hayden’s List.  This is because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a lesbian in my book.  What upsets me, and what I feel is wrong, is that there’s this largely held notion in general that being something other than straight is still something one should feel ashamed about.

Before Hayden’s List went live I told a gay male friend of mine about what we were doing.  His response surprised me.  There’s no need for that at this point, he said.  Marriage is going to become legal in all fifty states soon and people are moving on from this discussion.  Feeling the heat of indiganance surge up from my heart center, I stopped to think about this for a minute before responding.  Was this true?  Could he be right?  Are gay rights about to become a non-issue?


But then I considered my source.  He was a well-built, well-to-do, good-looking gay guy living in a posh, embracing neighborhood, surrounded by loving friends and accepting family.  I pointed this out to him and then kindly reminded him that not everyone has it so good.

The reality is that there are millions of people around the world who cannot come out because they will be ostracized, criticized, could lose their family, their job or even their life.  It’s unfortunate but racism is proof of amount of toxic discrimination that’s still out there.  We are well into the future with that battle and yet it’s an on-going war raging in our neighborhoods, our schools and even our families.  And it’s certainly not just contained to the U.S.

The irony of all this is that the number one reason why people are inclined not to review on Hayden’s List is because they don’t want to “out” a service provider or a lawyer or a doctor as being “gay.”   Whether the business is or isn’t LGBT is irrelevant because people feel that associating a business with a LGBT-friendly website will automatically categorize them as being LGBT.  It’s as if leaving a good rating is equivalent to giving people the cooties — some people, despite believing in what Hayden’s List is trying to accomplish, simply aren’t okay with doing that.

I want to know: what’s so bad about that?  It’s laughable if you think about it.  Not only does it reinforce the need for Hayden’s List in the first place but it just goes to show you just how much of a stigma there is around being seen as homosexual / trans / bi / queer.

My hope for 2015 is that we all pry open our minds just a little bit more to let in some room for further enlightenment.  That more people than ever find the courage to step into who they are; to accept and love themselves first and foremost, realizing there’s no shame in being yourself.  That we remember — for every hater there are a gazillion of people out there who will love us for exactly who we are.  My other hope?  That in ten years from now (or maybe five) or even if it takes fifty, someone reads this and mocks it for sounding oh-so provincial, backward and small-brained.  Let’s hear it for 2015: the end of the dark age of sexual discrimination.

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With Gratitude

Despite having only soft-launched, we have had quite the year already and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Here’s what our advocates have said this year about us.  To be honest, what people have said about us, we feel, is a direct reflection of who they are…and we have fallen in love over and over again with this community we are slowly building.  Thanks to all your kind words and most importantly for speaking out and leaving a review.

Here’s to making 2015 even bigger and better!

“I am not personally a member of the LGBT community but some of my close friends are. And just as I’m teaching my kids, any time we support and love others, we help make this world a better place.” — Rachel Harrington, Kansas City Missouri

“We use Hayden’s List because as members of the LGBT community we frequently desire the opinion of a shared experience from members of our same community. Whether its a situation which deals with large sums of money such as travel or real estate transactions or in matters that have life lasting implications such as family planning or maybe just a quiet dinner where we are as welcomed as everybody else.” — Mark and Keith, New Haven, CT

After being a member of the LGBTQ community for combined over 30 years, we have seen our fair share of discrimination in personal, religious, and professional settings. My partner and I believe in Hayden’s List because it provides a resource to support businesses in our community that welcome us with open arms. Who wouldn’t want to help keep a business like that to thrive?” — Heidi Schuman and Cindy Hernandez, Chicago

“Hayden’s List is great for the community because it helps LGBT people to feel comfortable and welcomed when accessing resources and services. As a gay man, I believe it is important to support establishments that affirm my identity and strengthen my community.” — Eric Sullivan, Los Angeles

“In the ideal world, LGBT people would not have to fear discrimination or intolerance from businesses or service providers. Until that perfect world exists, it is wonderful to have Hayden’s List– a place to share our experiences, feel empowered with our voices, and build community.” — Ginger Aaron Brush, Birmingham, AL

“My personal and professional values align with those of Hayden’s List. I believe that the LGBTQ community should have access to reliable information about any type of service provider that is not only accepting of them, but who can also meet their needs as individuals.” — Anthony Brisson, Middletown, CT

“The reason I am on Hayden’s List is because I enjoy being a part of a joyful moment in a couples’ life. I feel that HL is a great resource for the LGBT community because they can go to enlist the service of someone and not worry whether they will be discriminated against, or even refused service based on the person they love.” — Jon Knobelock, St. Louis, MO

“As an LGBT couple, my husband and I always look for opportunities to partner with and support pro-LGBT companies and organizations. We choose to spend our dollars where we feel welcomed and valued. HL helps make that decision much easier.” — Zach and Josh Johnson, Los Angeles, California

“Hayden’s List provides an invaluable service to the LGBT community. It is difficult to believe in this day and age that companies and services can shun us. Hayden’s List prevents that from occurring.” — John Rector and Trent McGlynn, Atlanta, GA

“Hayden’s List is a breath of fresh air. It’s not about exposing who isn’t accepting or friendly, rather it’s a community to celebrate and bring our business to like-minded people who radiate love and goodness. I am a proud Hayden’s List follower for my best friend, Josh. Because any place that loves him unconditionally like I do is a new favorite of mine.” — Kalin Sheick, Michigan