Show Me Love

Show Me Love

The Ad Council and the NFL teamed up to create the newest Love Has No Labels campaign.  The “Kiss Cam” at the Pro Bowl in Orlando Florida turned into something much bigger than the typical couples kissing.  It turned into an opportunity to highlight love’s different forms.

According to the Ad Council, the video features “real families, couples and friends across different races, religions, genders, sexualities, abilities and ages.”

Please take a moment and enjoy the video here.

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One Less Worry for Pulse Victims

We hear about so many negative and sad LGBT stories, it’s always wonderful when we can spread some good news. Here’s a story that is sure to put a smile on your face.

The hospitals that treated the Pulse shooting victims, Orlando Health and Florida Hospital, will not bill the victims or their families. The hospitals will be writing off approximately $5.5 million in services.

Orlando Health’s main hospital, Orlando Regional Medical Center, treated the majority of the victims. Nine patients died after arriving. Orlando Health will bill insurance companies for those who had coverage, but the remaining balance will be written off by the hospital.

Florida Hospital, which treated a dozen of the victims, said they would not even bill insurance companies, nor will they bill for follow-up surgeries the survivors may need.

“During this very trying time, many organizations, individuals and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support. This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward.” said Orlando Health President and CEO David Strong.

Daryl Tol, Florida Hospital’s President and CEO said, “We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando.”

And, smile.

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A Survivor Dances

Angel Colon is a Pulse victim survivor and a lover of Zumba.

The Zumba Instructor Network, who held their convention in Orlando recently, honored Angel for his bravery and determination. Angel was shot six times during the massacre at Pulse.

Just over a month later, he was able to use a walker to go on stage and speak to the convention. “This past month has been the worst month of my life, but going through this there’s been nothing but love and support from everyone,” he told the crowd.

The Zumba Instructor Network announced the start of the “Zumba Fitness Angel Institution”, which is a scholarship to be used to send one instructor who demonstrates love and diversity to the annual convention. The Zumba Instructor Network also announced that they would be paying for all of Angel’s physical therapy and his rent for a year.

Angel danced to the song “Love Make the World Go Round,” a song released by Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway sensation “Hamilton.”  The song was created for the Orlando victims families and to address the needs of the mentally ill.  Lopez stated “The world really needs the message of love being the answer.  That’s what really matters; that’s what really makes the world go ’round, nothing else.  Hate, anger, it’s not gonna get us anywhere.”

Before Angel went on stage he received a message from JLo herself: “Stand tall, Angel and dance, dance as the world is watching.”

Check out Angel’s triumphant return here.

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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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Here We Go


The very first flight we took with our son was when he was only a few weeks old.  We were heading to a wedding in Los Angeles.

Those who know us know all too well it was only fitting our son would be on a cross-country flight before turning one month old. We were new dads but as all parents know, it’s a learn-on-the-job type gig.  Spend twenty-four seven with anyone and you tend to figure them out quite well.

As we sat at our gate at Logan Airport I watched as two women across the way chatted and pointed at us. I hadn’t really thought about comments or stares. We were flying from Boston to Los Angeles after all, two fairly progressive cities.

After a few moments one of the ladies came over, took my hand, which at the moment was burping my child, moved it down and said, “No, you burp here.”

I just looked at her. Did she really just do that?

First off, it’s strange when anyone I don’t know touches me but even after just two short weeks of burping our child every two to three hours, we quickly figured out the “right spot.”

I moved my hand back, he burped, and I just simply smiled, hoping she would walk away.  Instead she asked, “So, where is his mother?”

I honestly don’t remember how I responded.  Does she go up to single mothers she sees and asks where the father is?  It was at that moment I realized that no matter where we are or where we’re traveling, we stick out.

This didn’t and hasn’t stopped us from traveling, of course.  Our son has now been on roughly thirty flights in his twenty-seven months on this earth.  He even has his own frequent flier card.

It was right before his second birthday, our last “free flight” as he was still a baby and we were heading from Los Angeles to Louisville, Kentucky to visit some of our dearest friends.  As we sat on the flight from Las Vegas to Louisville I immediately felt the stares.  If a woman in Boston has the gall to ask me about my child, what would they say in Kentucky?  I braced myself.

In the middle of the flight I got up to use the restroom and the flight attendants were all in the back catching up on the latest news and life updates.  As I approached they all smiled and said, “We are all sitting back here talking about you guys.  You guys are just such a cute family!”  It made me smile.

As we landed in Louisville the family in front of us turned around and welcomed us to Kentucky.  They told us everything we should do, see and eat during our stay and asked us all about our son.  Their conversation was genuine and again I smiled.

Today we’re headed home for Thanksgiving, on our way to Kansas City.  Walking through the airport, a now-familiar family routine, I know we still stick out.  We may not look like the other families returning home from their Disney World vacations but we aren’t so different.  We are just like them: proud parents taking a trip to Grandma’s house with our beautiful son.  As we board the plane our son shouts out, “Here we go!” Everyone, buckled in their seats, joins in, “Here we go!”  Our little guy starts to laugh.  I smile bigger than I ever have.

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New on “The List”: Pink Pig Bakery of Orlando, Florida

Orlando downtown dusk

A bakery in Orlando, Florida has made it’s way on “The List”.

HL Reviewer, J McClain, provided us with this great review: “Allie with Pink Pig Bakery provided our custom armadillo cake for my husband and my wedding. Her supportive nature was tremendous and we always felt comfortable discussing our wedding with her. Pink Pig Bakery is definitely an ally of the LGBT community. On top of that, her cakes are wonderful! Highly recommended!”

Having an event in Orlando? Check out this review and others in the Orlando Events Section.

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We Love Orlando

We Love Orlando

Despite the steamy, ninety-degree Florida heat, over 153,000 people with pride turned up on Saturday in downtown Orlando.  No wonder we ran out of our 600 rainbow Hayden’s List bracelets within the first few hours.

We had a great time getting to know all kinds of different folks, applying tattoos to necks, backs, shoulders, wrists, chests, faces.  You name it, HL graced it.  From glam glitter to pressed button downs, bare booties, boas to Birkenstocks  — we loved meeting you and seeing you in all your glory.

If you haven’t joined our mailing list yet, be sure to sign up this week.  We’re raffling off two $50 Visa gift cards on Friday.  For each review you leave, your name is entered into the raffle.  The more reviews you leave, the better your chances to win.  Click here to leave a review.

Oh–and make like Margaret Cho and follow us on Twitter.  @haydenslist

Until next year, Orlando.

We’re all Hayden’s List!

fireworks orlando


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