Grooms throw block party wedding

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Wednesday October 16, 2013
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Tom Taylor, left, and Jerry Goldstein embrace at their<br>wedding block party in Noe Valley October 13.(Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)<br><br>
Tom Taylor, left, and Jerry Goldstein embrace at their
wedding block party in Noe Valley October 13.(Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

The street in front of their Noe Valley home was closed and LGBT boldface names were in abundance as Tom Taylor and Jerry Goldstein exchanged vows in front of hundreds of their friends last weekend.

The two men, who have been together for 40 years, might be known to locals for their elaborate holiday decorations outside their 21st Street home.

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker and Dr. Robert Akeley, who were deputized marriage commissioners for the occasion, performed the October 13 ceremony, which took place outside the home Taylor and Goldstein have shared since 1973.

Akeley, a founder of Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights, recalled the early days of the gay rights movement, when he, joined by Baker, Taylor, and Goldstein, waged many hard-won battles.

"We fought to make this moment happen," said Baker.

Goldstein recalled just how bad things could get in those early days. He explained to the Bay Area Reporter why it was important to the couple that their marriage ceremony be held in the street in front of their home.

"[Our ceremony] was a bit grand and in the street where the SFPD stopped Tom Taylor and almost arrested him in 1976 because he allegedly had no right to live with me," Goldstein said in an email Monday, referring to the San Francisco Police Department.

But times have changed. The couple received a plaque from gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Wedding guests included longtime activist Cleve Jones and out District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener.

"I love the idea of a wedding block party," said Wiener. "It's a great neighborhood celebration for two guys who are extraordinary community leaders."

Goldstein and Taylor never thought they'd live to see the day: the longtime HIV survivors were expected to die in 1983.

"For reasons inexplicable we are alive and well and giving what we can to productive projects in the community," said Goldstein.

Goldstein, 72, and Taylor, 70, spoke of their intent to be cremated when their times come. They plan to have their ashes placed together in a single urn, where they will rest together in the San Francisco Columbarium.

The wedding was a grand affair. Comedian Bruce Vilanch, who served as host, kibitzed with the crowd as everyone celebrated the joyous occasion.

"The oldest standing structure in San Francisco Bay is the relationship between Tom and Jerry," quipped Vilanch.

21st Street was full of people who attended the block party wedding of Tom Taylor and Jerry Goldstein last weekend in Noe Valley.

(Photo: Steven Underhill)

Cabaret artist Sharon McNight sang a lovely rendition of Dan Hill's romantic ballad "Sometimes When We Touch." There was much laughter when Bruna Palmeiro and Zelda Koznofski of Thrillpeddlers performed a lively, Mae West-style number called "Nasty Boy."

The grand ceremony saw the couple escorted down 21st Street by dancers and a marching band. Two women sprinkled flowers on the path before them. The ceremony was short and simple. After they said, "I love you" to each other, they smashed a glass " a Jewish wedding tradition " and were pronounced legally wed as the guests burst into applause. There were tears of joy on the podium and in the seats.

After the ceremony, guests gathered in Goldstein and Taylor's backyard. Drinks and food were served buffet style as the revelers stood in a long receiving line to congratulate the radiant couple. It was a balmy, sunny day, and many enjoyed the impressive view of the city and the bay from the hilltop abode. It's a house familiar to many in the community. Every Christmas, Goldstein and Taylor decorate their home with thousands of colorful Christmas tree lights: many people consider it a pilgrimage each year to see Tom and Jerry's Christmas Tree, as it's known.

"I've never done anything like this," Vilanch said during the reception. "It's totally San Francisco, eccentric, and unique. And it was fun!"

"Never before and never again will we see a wedding like Tom and Jerry's," said Wiener. "Very befitting for two guys who are truly Castro royalty."