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The Wedding Issue Find out what local experts and Valley newlyweds have to say about planning your perfect big day

LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | VOL. 28, #11 | ISSUE 695 | AUGUST 2017 | COMPLIMENTARY We offer expertise in both elective and reconstructive procedures. With a focus on providing patients with care that is compassionate and highly skilled, Elite Plastic Surgery treats you with the level of care you deserve.


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inside this issue Issue 695 | Vol. 28, #11 | August 2017

features NEWS 8 Letter From The Editor 12 News Briefs 14 Datebook PREVIEWS AND REVIEWS 40 Without Reservations 44 At The Box Office 46 Recordings

Photo courtesy of DePoy Studios.

48 Between The Covers



A Perfect Fit Local newlyweds reflect on their recent wedding experience after returning from a honeymoon abroad.

Photo courtesy of Leland Gebhardt Photography.


A Grand Success Local entrepreneur brings event and wedding planning company to Melrose District.

52 All Over The Map 54 Talking Bodies

ON THE COVER Sher (right) and Deanna Hatch on their wedding day in Sedona, Ariz. Photo by DePoy Studios.

Photos courtesy of Robbins Brothers.

32 The Wedding Issue Find out what local experts and Valley newlyweds have to say about planning your perfect big day

With This Ring … Valley jeweler explores wedding band and ring trends among Arizona’s same-sex couples.

Photo by Philip Hall.


Tying the Tuscan Knot Same-sex destination wedding do’s and don’ts, courtesy of two event planners-turned-grooms.





inside this issue web exclusives PHOTO GALLERIES Did the Echo cameras catch you out and about at this month’s events? Find out at gallery/2017-photos. COMMUNITY CALENDAR From pageants to advocacy, this is where the community goes to find out what’s going Photo courtesy of Leland Gebhardt Photography.

A Revolutionary Reveal Find out how America’s newest museum is recognizing the LGBTQ community part of the American Revolution.

Wedding Trends The Knot, a top wedding brand and marketplace, releases trends and stats from 2017 LGBTQ Weddings Study.

on in the gayborhood. community-calendar COMMUNITY DIRECTORY Looking for a local group to join? Have a group that’s seeking new members? Either way, this is the place to connect. community-directory MARKETING SOLUTIONS Find out why Echo is the publication your future clients are already

Photo by Laura Latzko.

Dancing For one•n•ten Get to know the 10 contestants participating in this year’s ballroom fundraiser before they take the stage.

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reading. marketing-solutions

Hit Me With Your Best Shot For all the Out & About photos in this issue – and more – visit Echo’s online photo gallery.




letter from the editor By KJ Philp



t’s hard to believe that almost three years have passed since Echo launched its first unofficial wedding issue following U.S. District Court Judge John W. Sedwick’s decision to overturn Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban in October 2014 (you might remember Pussy LeHoot holding the “Love Wins” sign on the cover).

Next up, we paid a visit to the Scottsdale location of Robbins Brothers, The Engagement Ring Store, to talk wedding band and ring trends among same-sex couples. Find out what insight general sales manager Sharon Lehew had to offer in “With This Ring …” on page 32.

In the 40 issues we’ve produced since then, there have been so many unforgettable celebrations of love in our community – thank YOU for allowing us the honor of sharing some of them with our readers. Needless to say, we’ve been busy networking with local vendors, attending some brilliant same-sex weddings (can we just call them weddings yet?), and examining the state of marriage in Arizona and beyond to determine what exactly our community expects from us on this topic today. That’s certainly not for me alone to decide, but I sincerely hope that the diverse assortment of experts and newlyweds that we’ve brought together for our 2017 wedding issue both inform and inspire you! First up, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to this issue’s cover models Sher and Deanna Hatch. These beautiful brides, who just returned from their honeymoon earlier this month, share a little bit about their journey together as well as their wedding story in “A Perfect Fit” on page 24. From there, we caught up with Kyle Shields, BOF•FO Event Bureau + Creative Lab owner and creative director, who lends us his industry expertise and even introduced us to two of his most dapper grooms yet. Find out more about his latest business venture and his largest wedding to date in “A Grand Success” on page 28. 8


Before I move on to the rest of this issue’s highlights, I have to give a bridezilla-worthy shoutout to DePoy Studios and Leland Gebhardt Photography! The talents of these two professionals were the secret ingredient in bringing this issue to life, and for that I am eternally grateful. Thank you both!


Additionally, we had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Philip Hall, a San Francisco-base professional storyteller, foodie and founder of Philip recently attended the wedding of his good friends in Tuscany, Italy. This trip, coupled with the grooms’ experience in event planning, resulted in an essential list of destination wedding do’s and don’ts that’s specifically tailored to same-sex couples. No matter where or when you’re planning to get married, the tips in “Tying the Tuscan Knot” on page 34 will help make your big day as perfect as possible. Last, but certainly not least, we invite you to be a part of Echo’s ongoing celebration of love by sending us your engagement or wedding announcements for inclusion on our website. Just email a photo, short bio, link to your registry (if applicable) and your wedding date to weddings@ For more information, visit And in the meantime, congratulations to all of our readers who have tied the knot since last year’s wedding issue! Love always wins!

KJ Philp is the managing editor of Echo Magazine. He can be reached at

EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: KJ Philp CONTRIBUTORS: Anthony Costello Hans Pedersen Philip Hall Mark Segal Tamara Juarez Terri Schlichenmeyer Laura Latzko Nikole Tower Liz Massey Michael J. Tucker Melissa Myers Rachel Verbits Megan Wadding Tia Norris ART DEPARTMENT PHOTOGRAPHY: DePoy Studios, Leland Gebhardt Photography and ADVERTISING DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING: Ashlee James ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVES: Gregg Edelman Randy Robinson NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Rivendell Media, 212-242-6863


MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 16630 Phoenix, AZ 85011-6630 PHONE: 602-266-0550 EMAIL: Copyright © 2016 • ISSN #1045-2346


Echo Magazine is pub­lished by ACE Publish­ing, Inc. Echo is a registered trademark of ACE Publishing, Inc. All rights re­served. Written permis­sion must be obtained in advance for par­tial or com­plete re­production of any advertising ma­terial contained therein. Opin­ions ex­pressed therein are not necessar­ily those of the pub­lisher or staff. ACE Publishing, Inc. does not as­sume re­sponsibility for claims by its ad­vertis­ers. Publication of a name, photograph of an individual or or­ganiza­tion in ar­ticles, ad­ver­tisements or list­ings is not to be con­strued as an in­dication of the sexual ori­en­ta­tion, unless such ori­entation is specifically stat­ed. Manuscripts or other ma­te­ri­als submit­ted re­main the property of ACE Publishing, Inc.

Be a part of the ARTS!

Each year, Echo dedicates its annual Arts Issue to local galleries, theaters, venues and artists, including a snapshot of what the upcoming arts season has in store. This year’s Arts Issue is already in the works, but there’s still time to be included.

To place your ad in this premium issue, call 602-266-0550 by Aug. 30.

news briefs

Phoenix Pride Presents Annual Spirit Awards As part of Phoenix Pride’s first-ever awards reception, June 23 at the Phoenix Art Museum, the local nonprofit organization presented its ninth annual Community Spirit Awards. Under the theme of Night at the Museum, presented by PetSmart, the event served as Phoenix Pride’s annual celebration to honor the support of individuals and organizations from throughout the LGBTQ community and beyond. The 2017 Community Spirit Award recipients are: BJ Bud Spirit Award: GLSEN Phoenix The BJ Bud Spirit Award honors and celebrates a nonprofit organization that has made a significant contribution to the metropolitan Phoenix LGBTQ community.

Kirk Baxter Spirit Award: IGNITE The Kirk Baxter Spirit Award honors and celebrates an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution in the area of community health issues for the metropolitan Phoenix LGBTQ community. Howard & Patricia Fleischmann Spirit Award: Bank of America The Howard & Patricia Fleischmann Spirit Award honors and celebrates a business that has made a significant contribution to the metropolitan Phoenix LGBTQ community.

Tish Tanner Spirit Award: Naomi St. James

a significant contribution in the area of politics for the metropolitan Phoenix LGBTQ community. John Bircumshaw Spirit Award: Bobby Gordon The John Bircumshaw Spirit Award honors and celebrates an individual who has made a significant contribution to the metropolitan Phoenix LGBTQ community.

Mayor Phil Gordon Spirit Award: Congressman Ruben Gallego

Linda Hoffman Spirit Award: Stella Kowalczyk

The Mayor Phil Gordon Spirit Award honors and celebrates an individual or organization that has made

The Linda Hoffman Spirit Award honors and celebrates the Phoenix Pride volunteer of the year.

The Tish Tanner Spirit Award honors and celebrates the outgoing Miss Phoenix Pride for their contributions of service and fundraising for the metropolitan Phoenix LGBTQ community. Brandon Packer Spirit Award: Geo Johnson The Brandon Packer Spirit Award honors and celebrates the outgoing Mister Phoenix Pride for their contributions of service and fundraising for the metropolitan Phoenix LGBTQ community. Source: Phoenix Pride. Announces 2017 Award Winners As part of its annual Diamond Crystal Awards presented the 2017 awards during a ceremony July 7 at The Rock.

Achievement: Afeelya Bunz, which is owned by managing director Edward Castro, is dedicated to the art of drag and promoting and supporting the men and women of the Arizona’s drag community and beyond.

Celebrity Impersonation of the Year: Coco St. James as Lady Gaga

Miss Ebony Hall of Fame: Afeelya Bunz

Award of Excellence: Scotty Kirby Fan of the Year: Joseph Betancourt Male Impersonator of the Year: Eddie Broadway

Meet the 2017 Diamond Crystal Award winners:

Femme Performer of the Year: Coco Bardot

Rising Star of the Year: Whitney Stevens

Pride) Humanitarian of the Year: Barbra Seville

Best Performance by a Duo or Group: Uptown girl/Uptown funk (Phoenix Pride contestants)

Award of Excellence: Kendra Katoure

Male Performer of the Year: Kristofer V. Lee

Best Performance by a NonProfessional: Brad Debiase

Female Impersonator of the Year: Piper V. M’Shay

Chantelle L. Douglas Performance of the Year: Miley Mitchells

Entertainer of the Year: Savannah Stevens

Show of the Year: The Barbra Seville Show (Show director: Barbra Seville) Pageant of the Year: Mister & Miss Phoenix Pride (Promoters: Phoenix 12



Phoenix Pride Talent 2017 Lifetime

Source: news






You’ve got prevention options. Find what fits. VISIT AND TALK TO A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER

HEALTHYSEXUAL, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc. © 2017 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. UNBC3909 01/17


July 27

The Core, Community Empowerment Program and #morethanbars invite you to a Professional Painting Class: Nude Male Model from 7 to 9 p.m. at Melrose Collective, 626 W. Indian School Road, in Phoenix. July 27

Arizona Drag Stars, downtown Phoenix’s premier drag show, presents its ‘90s Throwback Edition beginning at 9 p.m. at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second St., in Phoenix. July 30 & Aug. 12

The Phoenix Mercury will tip off against the San Antonio Stars and the Seattle Storm at 3 and 7 p.m. (respectively) at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 E. Jefferson St., in Phoenix. Aug. 5 Aug. 5

Strike Out Hunger, a social fundraising event benefiting Joshua Tree Feeding Program, will include three games of AUGUST 2017 Aug. 6

Desert Overture presents its eight annual “A La Carte” – solos and small ensembles, a delightfully eclectic mix of musical styles and instruments, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Orangewood Presbyterian Church, 7321 N. 10th St., in Phoenix. Aug. 6

Queer Frida: Music, Dance, Art, Drag, Spoken Word & Celebration, benefiting the community organized film You Racist, Sexist Bigot, will take place from 8 to 10 p.m. at Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., in Phoenix.

Because We Care 2017 Music Series, a collaborative community effort to focus on HIV/ AIDS education, prevention and awareness, presents Big Freedia live at The Parsons Center for Health and Wellness, 1101 N. Central Ave., in Phoenix. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. and all proceeds benefit HIV & AIDS awareness.


bowling and shoe rental (teams are not required) from noon to 3 p.m. at Let It Roll Bowl, 8925 N. 12th St., in Phoenix.

Aug. 9

Murray & Peter present War on the Catwalk: The Queens from Season 9, an evening of drag performances with your favorite queens for all ages, beginning at 8 p.m. at Orpheum Theatre, 2030 W. Adams St., in Phoenix. Aug. 12

ONE Community invites you to Together We Make a Difference - Day of Service, a volunteering/ team building experience with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) at their Scoops & Hoops event from noon to 2 p.m. at Talking Stick Resort Arena.


Aug. 12

Trans Queer Pueblo will host Queer Artivismo, a night of drag, theater and poetry performances benefiting TQP, from 8 p.m. to midnight at 1726 E. Roosevelt St., in Phoenix. Aug. 13

Watch the 10 contestants of Dancing For one•n•ten, an annual ballroom fundraiser, take the stage beginning at 4 p.m. at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, in Tempe. Aug. 16

Arizona Gay Skate invites you to Summer Skate 2017, benefiting Joshua Tree Feeding Program, will take place from 8 to 11 p.m. at Great Skate Glendale, 10054 N. 43rd Ave., in Glendale. For details, search “Gay Skate AZ” on Facebook. mark our calendars

To have your event considered for Echo’s print and online calendars, submit your event details to echomag. com/communitycalendar. All submissions are subject to Echo’s discretion. events

OUT & ABOUT Brittney Griner Meet & Greet June 13 at The Cash Nightclub & Lounge, Phoenix. Photos by KJ Philp.

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SAT | AUG 12 | 7 PM




OUT & ABOUT Bisbee Pride Weekend 2017 June 16-18, downtown Bisbee. Photos by Stephanie Anne Donoghue.

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OUT & ABOUT Pride In the Pines 2017 June 24 at Thorpe Park Ball Fields, Flagstaff. Photos by Bill Gemmill.

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OUT & ABOUT 2017 Miss Gay Arizona America Pageant June 25 at Tempe Center for the Arts, Tempe. Photos by

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OUT & ABOUT Third Annual LGBTQ Family & Friendship Picnic May 28 at Watson Lake, Prescott. Photos courtesy of the Yavapai LGBTQ Coalition.

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cover story

A Perfect Fit Local newlyweds reflect on their recent wedding experience after returning from a honeymoon abroad By Liz Massey


her and Deanna Hatch had a problem: they were in Sedona, a place that both women loved, but every location they visited in their quest to find their ideal wedding venue had left them underwhelmed. “None of the places we had visited we had even liked,” Deanna said. “But while we were with some friends on a kayaking trip, one of them suggested a lodge on top of Airport Mesa. The moment we saw the spectacular views, we knew this was the place where we would be getting married.” Once they made that decision, a number of other things seemed to fit into place: The lodge offered them what they called the “perfect cottage,” right next to the outdoor ceremony site, and the property could accommodate their wedding date of Oct. 1, 2016 – the only date it had open for five months. “It’s like the stars aligned for us,” Deanna enthused. “Once we got the date we wanted, we knew this was totally meant to be,” said Sher, mirroring her wife’s astonishment.

by working for the City of Tempe as a coach. Both women were recruited to coach seventh and eighth grade volleyball at Deanna’s school. “We were in a professional setting, so we weren’t thinking of dating at first,” Sher said. Over time, professional conversations between the new pals gave way to more personal revelations, including the fact that both women had dated women since leaving high school. As they discovered more mutual interests and continued to enjoy their time together, the two began a romantic relationship, but it was a romance focused more on shared activities and less on a specific relationship structure, according to both women. “We realized how natural it was to be together and how well everything fit,” Deanna said. Sher added, “We knew we were exclusive, but we didn’t have labels for what we were doing. We just enjoyed each other’s company and whatever adventure came next for us.”

Sher and Deanna were able to plan their wedding day in a st yle that reflected their relationship, a connection that both describe as natural and easy. Their stor y as a couple is not without its plot t wists and complications, but by staying true to themselves and their bond, the chapter that includes their wedding has definitely had a happy ending.

Family Matters

Bump, Set, Spike, Love

The couple described their conversation about getting married as a “consultation” around their backyard fire pit, and not a proposal.

Shar and Deanna first met as students at Dobson High School and knew each other through mutual friends. They were both school athletes, but their affinity for sports didn’t play a crucial role in their connection until they were reintroduced to each other in 2010. By that point, Deanna had become a middle school teacher in Tempe and Sher supplemented her income from the financial services industry 24



Before either of them knew it, several years had passed and they had acquired all the trappings of a typical same-sex couple: a house, a car, and several beloved pets. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 cleared the way for the Hatches to label what they had together a “marriage” and plan to make it official by having a legally sanctioned wedding.

“It was listening to music around the fire pit and really talking about how much we love our life together,” Sher recalled. “We love everything we have done on our house … our dogs, families, each other. That’s when we were like, ‘let’s get married. Life doesn’t get any better than this.’”

Amid their newly engaged excitement, the pair realized there was one big challenge for them to resolve as they made wedding decisions: how to handle their families. Both women come from very traditional families – one Mormon and the other Catholic – that had accepted them as a couple, but were uncomfortable with the thought of participating in their wedding ceremony. “We had some honest discussions with [our families] on how to involve them,” Sher said. “Finally, we decided to take the pressure off everyone and just let our wedding day be about us.”

Small Wedding, Big Honeymoon In Sher and Deanna’s case, having the wedding just be about them meant limiting their guest list to themselves, their officiant, their photographer, and their two best friends. The small scale of the wedding meant overseeing all the details was manageable, even fun. “We did the entire ceremony ourselves,” Sher said. “We wrote our own vows and kept in touch with our officiant about what we wanted. I’m so glad we did it that way, because I remember every moment of that day.” The brides spent the morning of their big day getting ready and sharing champagne toasts with their best friends before the ceremony, and ended it with dinner at an upscale Sedona restaurant, followed by drinks at a swanky mixology-style bar. One of the biggest wedding “gifts” for the Hatches has been the European vacation from which they just returned July 10. Taking advantage of both women’s lighter summer schedules, the couple toured London, Paris and Rome as part of what they consider an epic honeymoon – one they say would not have been possible had they insisted on having a bigger wedding. “Traveling is paramount among the things we like to do,” Deanna said. “I spent time in college backpacking across Europe and told Sher we had to go there together. [Our goal was to] see cover story

Sher (right) and Deanna Hatch on their wedding day in Sedona, Ariz. Photo by DePoy Studios. cover story




the sights, enjoy the food and drink, and have fun hanging out with the locals.”

Happily Ever After After more than six years together, Sher and Deanna have passed a major relationship milestone by getting married. However, one of the secrets to the longevity of their union, they assert, is focusing on what worked for them at the very beginning. “It’s easy to get into ruts,” Sher said. “It’s important to keep doing those things you love doing together.” Deanna said, “When we first started dating, we would put the names of activities in a hat, and whatever we drew, that’s what we did. We still do that!” The couple agreed that they really didn’t feel a major impact from the legal aspect of their marriage, perhaps because their lives were already so entwined. But, according to Deanna, the social recognition that comes with marriage has definitely made them both very happy. “I love being able to call Sher my wife,” she said. “I’m proud to be married, and proud to be married to a woman.”

Photo by DePoy Studios.

Liz Massey has been involved in LGBTQ community-building activities in Kansas City and the Valley of the Sun, and is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. She can reached at





cover story

OUT & ABOUT Phoneix Pride’s Community Spirit Awards Reception June 23 at Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix. Photos by

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Feature Story

A Grand Success

Local entrepreneur brings event company to Melrose District By Tamara Juarez


s a child, Kyle Shields used to enjoy drawing floor plans and furnishing fantasy homes with items from Montgomery Ward catalogs. He would calculate a budget, then go about designing the perfect house that would fit that day’s theme. In the years since, Shields has followed his passion for interior design and event planning and, after 12 years “in events” he finally realized his childhood dream with the launch of his own business, BOF•FO Event Bureau + Creative Lab. “Boffo is an old theater word that means ‘a grand success,” he explained. “And it was perfect for the type of company I wanted to represent my passion and the type of brand I wanted to create. It’s classic yet unfamiliar, funky and fresh. It’s sophisticated but approachable … even though my marketing team wasn’t totally convinced at first, I just knew.” BOF•FO’s headquarters is located within Phoenix’s Melrose Collective, a local art gallery and community space where Shields works as the director of marketing and events. As the owner and creative director for BOF•FO, he plans and executes everything from corporate events to late-night soirees, but a majority of business comes from wedding planning. 28



“I do all sort of events, but weddings are my bread and butter,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in putting things together to create a bigger picture. I love the process and the creative freedom that comes with taking nothing and creating something that is bigger than yourself and bringing so much joy to other people.” As a wedding planner, Shields prides himself in being charged with the responsibility of coordinating one of the happiest moments of his client’s lives – not to mention his knack for simplifying a very lengthy and potentially chaotic list of details that go in a couple’s big day. The process of planning a wedding, Shields said, doesn’t become any more or less difficult if it’s a same-sex or heterosexual wedding. The work is the same and equally tricky, aside from some minor details that make each wedding unique.

Over the years, Shields said he’s observed various changes in the wedding industry, particularly same-sex weddings. Fortunately, they’ve all been for the better.

An Ever-Changing Industry Since launching his business, Shields has coordinated more than 100 events – the majority of which have been weddings – and he has yet to experience discrimination as a gay wedding planner or for providing services to same-sex couples.

Kyle Shields (far right) directs members of Funkhaus Brass Band during Comeaux and Reidhead’s second line down Central Avenue.

Feature Story

However, the wedding industry has not always been so accepting, and Shields can recall numerous moments throughout his career where his clients or potential clients were denied services based on their sexual orientation. “I would be at the bridal show and hear stories from same-sex couples that would visit my booth and they would tell me about how they had just visited another exhibiter, and when that exhibitor found of out that [they were] a same-sex couple, retracted their services and said that that wasn’t something they did,” Shields explained. However, he continues to see a greater number of people becoming more accepting of LGBTQ community members and same-sex weddings as visibility of LGBTQ issues are brought to the forefront of today’s politics and media. “I think the current state of the world is really opening people’s eyes to how much ignorance and hate there is out there,” he said. “It really is changing their ability to be more compassionate and inclusive and really reaching across the aisle to understand different cultures and point of views.” According to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, while 32 percent opposed it. This survey revealed a significant shift in opinion among formerly skeptical demographics, such as Republicans and baby boomers, a majority of whom opposed same-sex unions during

previous years. The new margin of approximately 2 to 1 is a complete reversal from public sentiment during 2004, when Pew found that 30 percent of American supported same-sex marriage and 63 percent opposed it.

Success is in the Details As acceptance of same-sex couples increases, so have the number of weddings among LGBTQ community members. “It’s becoming more of a social issue that’s not as taboo, so more same-sex couple who are getting married are moving toward a more traditional event,” he said “Before it was more low-key, now you’re starting to see bigger budgets and extravagant weddings. People are taking their dream weddings that they never thought they could have 10 years ago and are making them come true.” With Shields’ help, local grooms Wade Comeaux and Rustin Reidhead, were able to realize their own dream wedding earlier this year. And they have nothing but praise for BOF•FO. “Everything was amazing,” Reidhead said. “[Kyle] took the small little vision we had and he really brought it to life. He did so many things to go above and beyond.” Ranking as the largest wedding Shields has coordinated to date, Reidhead and Comeaux’s big day involved various components moving at once in preparation for the four-day event – which he had five months to put together.

As a proven planner who values small details, Shields delivered a once-in-alifetime experience for his clients. “One of the grooms was from New Orleans, and New Orleans does this really traditional thing called the ‘second line,’ and it’s a parade from the wedding to the reception,” Shields explained. “It’s usually lead by a jazz band, where the couple are given umbrellas and they lead the parade while the guests wave white handkerchiefs and beads. So, I and a family member of one of the grooms planned this entire elaborate second line parade down Central Avenue to the Found:Re Hotel for the after party.”

Wade Comeaux (left) and Rustin Reidhead exchange vows at the Phoenix Art Musuem. Photos courtesy of Leland Gebhardt Photography.

Feature Story




Be Your Guest Courtesy photo.

The one piece of advice Reidhead and Comeaux would offer couples planning to get married, or who are currently engaged, is to hire a wedding planner. No matter how confident a person may be in their planning skills, there is a lot of work that goes into preparing a wedding that may not even cross that individual’s mind. When it comes to planning a wedding, there is much to complete before the big day: working out a budget, choosing a venue, making a guest list, booking an officiant, hiring a DJ or band, selecting a photographer, meeting caterers, buying a dress or suit, finding a florist, selecting a cake, etc. The list could go on forever, but all the related work can be nearly eliminated with the help of a good event/wedding planner. “Not every couple needs a wedding planner or designer, but it’s my philosophy that you should be a guest at your own wedding,” Shields said. “Every couple should have someone that is not a guest, so that everyone who is invited to the wedding can enjoy it. It’s a day of love. No one needs to be stressed out. Hire someone to be stressed out for you.”

The One Difference Although BOF•FO plans same-sex weddings, Shields has reservations about labeling himself as a “gay wedding planner,” due to the stigma that may grow from differentiating the two. “I see myself as an event designer, and that just goes across all boards,” he said. “I think that as a society we need to move away from the stigma of ‘gay weddings’ versus ‘regular weddings,’ because to me, all weddings are the same – despite the couple. I just see weddings as weddings between two people who love each other.” Still, as a part of the LGBTQ community, Shields has a better understanding of certain sensitivities that come with planning a same-sex wedding. But a great event planner, he maintains, learns to be conscious of these details with experience, whether or not they themselves are gay. “I would say that the only difference is who is standing at the end of the aisle, but that’s different for every wedding, because every couple is different,” he said. “In terms of difference of the actual event itself, no. Everyone is there to celebrate love and the couple and have a good time.”

Melrose Collective Appropriately located right around the corner from Seventh Avenue’s iconic Melrose archway, there’s an unassuming building that’s ground zero for some of the Valley’s most sensational soirees and awe-inspiring artists. The Melrose Collective, 626 W. Indian School Road in Phoenix, which officially opened its doors earlier this spring, serves as a progressive gallery, an artist collective, a community space and event venue – a unique contrast to surrounding entertainment, thanks to its relaxed ambiance, friendly services and multifunctional facility. Named after its location in Phoenix’s unofficial gayborhood, Melrose Collective offers patrons the opportunity to rub elbows with other art enthusiasts and discover fresh talent. “It’s a good alternative for people instead of going to the same bars and clubs every weekend,” said Brandin Whitaker, director of operations for Melrose Collective. “We want it to become a staple in the community and thought it would be a cool location. Just to add on to the Seventh avenue development.” So far, there have been 10 events held at Melrose Collective and featured artwork from local favorites, including Aaron Allen, Ruben Gonzales and Jon Wassom. As a business located in the LGBTQ safe part of town, providing a welcoming atmosphere for people of all walks of life is a priority, and Whitaker plus his team make a point of reflecting the community’s diverse audience. “All of our artists have been part of the LGBT[Q] community and going forward we want to do more events with youth groups and LGBT[Q] youth and nonprofits,” he said. Melrose Collective seeks to help reenergize the Melrose District and intends to do so with a robust lineup of events ranging from wine and paint parties and to artist markets to live models and erotic art. For more information on Melrose Collective, including details on upcoming events, visit melrosecollectivephx.

Tamara Juarez s a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. During her spare time she loves to read, hike and make bad puns. 30



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Lashbrook men’s bands.

feature story

Photos courtesy of Robbins Brothers.

With This Ring …

Valley jeweler explores wedding band and ring trends among Arizona’s same-sex couples By Anthony Costello


word of mouth, they’re not sure up front whether they’re going to be treated with the respect they deserve. We help them the same way we do with heterosexual couples that come in.

study from the Williams Institute, released June 23, reports 547,000 same-sex couples have gotten married since the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality in June 2015. Collected data shows samesex couples have spent $1.3 billion on their weddings, including ceremonies, wedding apparel and wedding rings. Despite economic benefits, some religious businesses continue to turn same-sex couples away. Conversely, Robbins Brothers, The Engagement Ring Store, has made a commitment to helping same-sex couples complete their big day with the most visible symbol of their love – wedding rings specifically tailored to same-sex couples.

Robbins Brothers general sales manager Sharon Lehew (pictured) shared some of the latest wedding ring and band trends and reflected on the impact the legalization of samesex marriage has had on Arizona businesses. Echo: A recent study showed that same-sex couples have spent $1.3 billion on weddings since June 2015; have you noticed any specific trends since then? Lehew: We’ve always had same-sex couples coming in and buying from us. We make our customers feel welcome regardless of orientation. The LGBT[Q] community is a tight network and when they feel comfortable they share the word with their friends and family. 32



Echo: What can a couple expect when they come in to shop for rings? Lehew: We ask them if they have a Pinterest and found something they liked on there, what they’re looking or if they have something on their phone they want to show us … basically we ask what looks good to them and help them from there.

Robbins Brothers general sales manager Sharon Lehew.

They share their experience and want to make sure their friends have the same comfortable experience when they shop for their wedding rings. Echo: How has your business and/ or clientele changed in the past two years? Lehew: We have more couples excited about getting married. They don’t feel uncomfortable anymore. Echo: When same-sex couples enter your store, do you take a unique approach to helping them select their rings? Lehew: We have nervous couples with everyone. If they haven’t come to us by

What we do is work off of our tablets or computers, sit them down and ask them first off what they’re looking for, but we get them comfortable with the store. We ask them what they want to accomplish on their visit. Once we find that out, we discern what shape or styles of diamonds they want to look at. Most prefer to look at the style first – whether it’s classic, modern or vintage – because they want to find their own unique style. Echo: What do you find that same-sex couples are most often looking for in engagement rings? Lehew: Often it’s a karat or larger in many different shapes; emerald, princess, oval and rounds. Pear shaped has become very sought after as a center shape stone. Echo: What hot trends are you noticing among male same-sex couples buying engagement rings and wedding bands? feature story

Engagement ring trends among same-sex couples:  Matching rings. A great way to represent your union if both partners have similar tastes. Matching rings also symbolize a cohesive partnership. Robbins Brothers men’s bands.

 Two rings with one common element. Two different rings with one common element

Kirk Kara women’s engagement rings.

that tie the pair together, yet still reflect individual taste.  Customized rings. Each partner designs each others ring to truly reflect their personality and style. This can include colored gemstones and metals, engravings and more. Source: Robbins Brothers, The Engagement Ring Store.

Lehew: We’ve had a lot going for Tacori bands. Our Simon G. bands are popular with the white and the rose, all white or yellow and rose. Sometimes they’ll do closed band designs with the same colors, but completely different designs. They’re still individuals, but still want unity. I have to say our LGBT[Q] couples, especially the males, are not looking for alternate metals, but something that will endure the lifetime of their relationship. Echo: And how about current trends among female same-sex couples? Lehew: It’s very similar to any woman walking in. Our classics are still very popular, like the halos with the modern twists and vintage looks. Something they like to do is take the unique shaped diamond and add some engraving on the inside or the outside of their bands … Some of our ladies who don’t like raised center diamonds, they buy the wide diamond wedding ring [band]. But the majority of our ladies prefer the center diamonds.

Echo: What type of stylized elements are you seeing? Lehew: Vintage with a mix of a milgrain border across the edge, or a scrolling or wheat design. Echo: What do same-sex couples commonly steer away from when selecting wedding rings and bands? Lehew: Ladies rings are only made in the precious metals. We have something for everyone, so everyone finds the type they want. Some people don’t like the openness of a ring, they want a solid band, while others prefer it. In the bands a lot of men do prefer the precious metals because of the longevity. We cater to everyone’s preference, and we make sure cost doesn’t prevent them from that, especially with young people who are working on a tight budget. Echo: What are some unique requests you’ve received from same-sex customers? Simon G engagement and wedding ring.

Lehew: Custom work. I recently did one for a large 2k emerald and they were a combination of a couple different styles she was attracted to but there’s no other ring like it. A lot of our couples enjoy that they can be creative with us. If it’s physically possible we make it work. Echo: What new trends do you expect same-sex couples to look for or gravitate toward? Lehew: The E3 diamonds for one. They’re amazing: grown in a controlled environment to get better sizing and color options. You’re not messing with mother nature either by digging up tons of ore to get quality cuts so they’re much more environmentally friendly. Echo: What’s one thing you’d like our readers to know about your stance on inclusion and equality? Lehew: Helping couples in love is our mission regardless of identity or orientation. It’s important to ensure they’re getting the craftsmanship, quality and comfortability they deserve. It’s so important to make sure every detail is right. It matters, because it’s forever. For more information on Robbins Brothers, visit scottsdale.

Anthony Costello is an award-winning writer, a graduate of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a fraternity brother of Sigma Phi Beta, a gay, straight, bisexual and transgender fraternity.




feature story

Family and friends of Tim Smith and Dan Donohue celebrate at their reception in Pozzo della Chiana, a quaint Tuscan hilltop tsown. Photos courtesy of

Tying the Tuscan Knot Same-sex destination wedding do’s and don’ts By Philip Hall


hen it comes to pulling off a successful same-sex destination wedding, professional event planners Tim Smith and Dan Donohue of Eventi Productions will be the first to tell you, “this shit ain’t easy, gurrll!” After seven years of playing “is he the one?” the two San Franciscans tied their own knot this summer in Pozzo della Chiana, a quaint Tuscan hilltop town overlooking the scenic river valley sandwiched between Cortona and Arezzo, Italy. The weeklong wedding festivities were a huge success, but that doesn’t mean it went of f without a hitch. 34



“The planning process began in fall of 2015, which was key to giving us the time we needed to get all the pieces of this crazy puzzle assembled,” Smith said, sipping his third glass of prosecco during a sunset dinner they hosted at the Villa Fontelunga bed and breakfast they booked for close friends. “But don’t for a second think it was easy.” From selecting the ideal location more than two years in advance and performing multiple site visits to dealing with remote vendors and navigating the often-overlooked impact cultural differences and communication barriers can have on the final result, let’s just say there’s a reason Under the Tuscan Sun is classified as a romantic comedy.

Having received a coveted invite to the summer soiree, I thought it prudent to share some of their lessons learned in this quick list of destination wedding do’s and don’ts, specifically tailored for same-sex couples. Do select a venue that’s known for being LGBTQ friendly. If the owners are LGBTQ, even better! Not only is it nice to support our extended family around the world, their acceptance and understanding helps eliminate any pushback or awkwardness around potential unconventional requests, like clothing-optional pool time or the need for Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to play on continuous loop in the common areas. feature story

Don’t select a venue in a major city or you’ll be a small fish in a big pond and receive less bang for your buck. Take over a small city or town 30-45 minutes away from a major metro for a few days and you can still access all the vendors of the city, just on your own terms. It’s more personable, and local restaurants, caterers and vendors are willing to do more for less, because they value your business. And don’t worry about the extra travel time for your guests; If you’re having them schlep across continents and oceans, taking public transport, a cab, or renting a car to get another 30 minutes out of a congested city center isn’t too hard or costly and is totally worth it. Do hire a wedding planner who speaks your native tongue and who is based in the nearest major city to where you’re planning the celebration. “Our local planners Elizabeth and Ann from Original Tuscan Wedding were our ground infantry and conduit to the multitude of moving pieces,” said Donohue. “The time difference was a huge burden, and having them coordinate on our behalf during local business hours was totally worth the expense.” Don’t assume the weather is going to cooperate. Try your best to pick a time of year when the weather is most consistent and comfortable, but have a backup plan ready when weather forecasts are fine-tuned the weeks before the main event. Parasols and hand fans are a cheap and easy way to prevent your gaggle of gays

from melting in extreme heat. Tents, umbrellas, and an option to move everything indoors will help with surprise showers.

decisions are finalized, get your agreed upon terms in writing. More often than not, you’ll find out about a surcharge or unforeseen rental fee at the last minute and you’ll want to reference those emails when you put your foot down and say “we didn’t agree to that.”

Do plan multiple events and activities. Your closest family and friends are spending good time and money to celebrate your nuptials, the least you can do is spend time with them. A welcome dinner, a themed white party, morning-after brunch, etc., will give you ample time to schmooze with your guests and for your guests to schmooze with each other. You can also plan sightseeing, wine tasting, lunch outings, shopping trips, cooking classes, museums visits and more. Calendar various activities and arrange for shuttles if needed, and let your guests opt-in to pay for whatever floats their boat. Not only will this make your wedding more memorable, but everyone will get to know each other, which makes for a kickass wedding reception. Prorate the shuttle fees and include that in the per person cost you send to your guests so you’re wedding budget doesn’t take the hit.

Don’t be overly prescriptive about wedding attire. A lot of guests will extend their stay a few days on either end of your wedding, making luggage space a premium. If you ask them to bring a special outfit, color or style of clothing and they can’t easily wear it again on the trip, then you’ll hear grumblings. Pick a slightly vague dress code like “garden elegance” and people will interpret that how they want. Besides, nobody is ever kicked out of a wedding for being underdressed, so relieve your guests of all the pressure of “black tie” because that’s just a pain in the ass to procure and pack.

Don’t overbook yourself. Try your best to keep your calendar clear the three months prior to your same-sex destination wedding, because you will inevitably underestimate the amount of time and energy required to get everything done leading up to the big event. Do get everything in writing. Most of your communications with venues, your wedding planners and vendors will be via phone and email, but when

Do make sure 100 percent of your guests are comfortable with the “gay” part of your same-sex destination wedding. I know, I know, what a Debbie Downer perspective in this age of acceptance and tolerance, but if you’ve got multiple generations coming, straight cousins with little kids, and once or twice removed relatives closer to your parents than you; bathhousetalk and after-hours party antics might make some uncomfortable. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t love and support you, but since they can’t just drive home when the activities of the day wind down, it’s always a good idea to make sure your destination wedding

Event planners Tim Smith (left) and Dan Donohue tying the knot in their destination wedding in Tuscany, Italy.

feature story




is universally inclusive and a good time for all attending. Whether you choose to tie the knot Italian Wedding style or opt to get Maui’d in the islands, destination weddings don’t need to break the bank to be amazing, but any problems you can’t throw money at are going to

require more planning and research on your part. If all else fails, make sure you have loads of food and large quantities of liquor and you’ll be fine. Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on tissues and waterproof mascara, because there wont be a dry eye in the house!

Philip Hall is a professional storyteller and founder of eatsporkjew. com. As a San Francisco-based freelance writer, photographer and marketer, he helps uncover the unique stories behind the people in our communities, the places we visit, and food we eat.

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feature story

To Our Community We lost a building, and that building meant a lot to our community. Now we will start a new chapter with the strong arms of our community around us in a temporary home. one•n•ten programs will resume at The Parsons Center for Health and Wellness, thanks to the support of the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS. Support services will not skip a beat, and we will do our best to recreate "home" for our youth as quickly as possible. We will be accepting donations at The Parsons Center for Health and Wellness. And if you would like to extend financial support for these items, donations can be made at Additionally, an Amazon wishlist of our current needs can be viewed at

Our youth love pizza and home-cooked meals. If you are interested in providing dinner while we plan for the delivery of nightly means, please email Youth needing shower facilities are welcome at Tumbleweed Center: A service of UMOM New Day Centers. For additional opportunities to support our youth as we navigate this uncharted territory together as a community, look for on Facebook, @1n10 on Twitter or onentenphx on Instagram. Thank you for your support! We are not skipping a beat!

one•n•ten is now accepting donations at The Parsons Center for Health and Wellness (1101 N. Central Ave, in Phoenix) Food, Hygiene & Personal items

• non-refrigerated to-go meals • heat resistant individual packaged snacks • plates • cold and hot disposable cups • napkins • plastic cutlery • paper towels • zip lock bags • deodorant • razors • shaving cream • shampoo and conditioner • soap • tampons/pads • unused socks and underwear • new shoes various sizes (masculine and feminine) • totes and backpacks • reusable water bottle • clothing store gift cards • bus passes (single day, 7-day and 31-day)

Camp OUTdoors supplies & equipment • new sleeping bags • new sleeping Pads • new refillable water bottles • new pillows • REI/outdoor store gift cards

Youth Center supplies & equipment lost

• HDMI compatible projector • gaming consoles (PS4, xbox1, Wii) • Game Stop gift cards • two large flat screen TVs • art supplies (markers, paper, paint, paint brushes, glue) • electric piano • drum kit • acoustic guitars • ukulele • tambourines, hand drums • AMC movie passes • notebooks, pencils, school supplies (high school level) • clothing store gift cards • gently used Windows 10 or Mac laptops

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The Park Street Food Bar and Beer Garden

Story and photos by Rachel Verbits.


ithout a doubt, some of the best summer memories involve the outdoors: from pool parties with friends and family cookouts to taking in 4th of July fireworks displays and even maybe getting out of town for a camping trip or a picnic in the pines. Because firing up the grill and perusing the options at an outdoor potluck are more like punishments when temperatures sail above 110 degrees, we’ve found a nearperfect solution for beating this heat . The Park Street Food Bar and Beer Garden, also known simply as The Park, opened in February. This new downtown Phoenix eatery combines almost all of your favorite summer memories under one air-conditioned roof (er, treeline). Located in downtown Phoenix’s Collier Center (at 3 S. Second St.), and just a foul ball away from Talking Stick Resort Arena and Chase Field, The Park truly lives up to its name by bringing the outside in. Designed to look like an outdoor park, 20-foot trees provide a canopy of “shady” foliage above the picnic-inspired seating area, creating the feeling that you’ve arrived for an outdoor cookout, but with all the comforts of the indoors (and then some).

Upon entering, you’ll quickly realize that The Park serves up more than just a typical restaurant experience. The 11,000 square-foot multipurpose space – which features everything from countless big-screen TVs showing local games to pingpong and shuffleboard tables – serves as an urban gathering ground for both food and entertainment. After dinner, those ages 21 and over are invited to stay for live music, DJs and a variety of other themed events. The star of the show, however, is The Park’s self-serve beer garden. This unique feature invites guests to pour whatever beer they please at the very moment they want it (which is a great compliment as the service can be slow depending on what’s going on downtown on any given evening). So how does it work? Once you receive your beer card, you can choose from the offerings on tap, carefully pour your desired amount and pay by the ounce. Asking your server how the process works is a good idea for newcomers, as their instructions and recommendations will be helpful as you navigate nearly 30 options. I kicked off my experience at the beer wall with SanTan Brewing Company’s Mr. Pineapple. The award-winning wheat beer with a tropical personality – thanks to

the Costa Rican pineapple juice its infused with – made for a near-perfect summer sipping selection. If beer isn’t your thing, there are plenty of cool, craft cocktails boasting all the favorite flavors of the season, such as the Mango Tango and Eugene Sweet Tea. While the beer wall is enough to pique your curiosity, the food is what will keep you coming back to The Park. The rotating menu is inspired by local food trucks that partner with the restaurant to bring their mobile eats indoors, creating an endless culinary adventure for customers. The community-style kitchen allows guest chefs to whip up their creations to add to The Park’s classic fare, and believe me when I say there’s more than enough to satisfy everyone’s cravings! If you’re stopping at The Park before you take in a D-backs or Mercury game this season, my recommendations are to, first, arrive with plenty of time and, second, to take full advantage of the menu by mixing and matching a variety of appetizers for a broader sample of what makes this place special. (Fair warning: The rotating menu items will inevitably leave you heartbroken at some point in time. It’s worth it, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Left to right: Pedal Haus Beer Basted Wings, Slow-Smoked Ribs and Crispy BBQ Chicken Wrap.




dining out

The Park Street Food Bar and Beer Garden

3 S. Second St., #114, Phoenix Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri & Sat

SanTan Brewing Comapny’s Mr. Pineapple.

Along with all the sporting event classics – pretzel bites, beer battered fries, chicken tenders – The Park also offers more unique selections that range from slow-smoked short ribs and calamari to a variety of southwest favorites and even picnic BBQ sandwiches.

tossed in a subtly sweet honey BBQ sauce, with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions and crispy bacon cheddar cheese and ranch dressing are neatly wrapped up in a flour tortilla – perfect for a bite on the go (good luck smuggling this into the ballpark though).

On our server’s recommendation, my picnic date and I started off with the Pedal Haus Beer Battered Chicken Wings, which are basted with Pedal Haus beer and rubbed with a special spice blend before frying. This order of 10 wings came out crispy on the outside and perfectly tender and juicy inside. Unable to choose just one sauce to accompany them, we opted for a combination of honey Sriracha sauce and sweet chili hoisin, which left our mouths watering even after our fingers were licked clean.

Because more of us are trying to keep that summer bod that we’ve worked so hard for and also because Phoenix has a tendency to get too hot for hot food, we celebrate the “Greens & More” salad menu! Here you can choose from a variety of fresh salads, including soup and salad combo (for the brave ones).

Speaking of mouth-watering, it’s no secret that few things pair better with summer and baseball quite like a rack of smoked ribs on the barbecue, and The Park’s recipe is nothing short of a grand slam. The four-time pecan-smoked ribs are (of course) smoky, but also sweet and practically fall right off the bone. At just $12, the half rack is an unbeatable deal, and is served with some of the best beerbattered pub fries this potato connoisseur has ever tasted. Ever. (Read: This is our must-try recommendation here.) If you’re in the mood for barbecue, but looking for a slightly lighter option, the Crispy BBQ Chicken Wrap was also on our batting order. The tender chicken,

I ordered the Southwestern Chicken Salad, a bed of mixed greens topped with the perfect blend of roasted corn, black beans, tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions and jerk chicken. Sage cheese cubes and avocado ranch dressing take this salad to the next level, making it familiar with an indulgent twist. As with the ribs, I ordered a half size, and was once again delighted by the generous portion. Thankfully, The Park doesn’t cut corners when it comes to their sweet treats, because no summer picnic would be complete without dessert. Order a delightfully fluffy Park Waffle with ice cream and strawberries – add some whipped cream for extra indulgence – and you won’t regret it. Trust us! The Park’s food and beer schedule is always changing due to their food truck partnerships, so keep coming back to explore an ever-changing menu.


Rachel Verbits is a published writer and a selfproclaimed foodie who spends her time exploring all the amazing eats Arizona has to offer.

Left to right: Southwestern Chicken Salad, Slow-Smoked Brisket Chili and Park Waffles.

dining out




OUT & ABOUT New one•n•ten Youth Center Construction Tour June 21 at The Parsons Center for Health and Wellness, Phoenix. Photos by KJ Philp.

For more Echo photos visit






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at the box office

By Hans Pedersen

Do You Take This Man Available on DVD/Blue-ray | 92 minutes | Drama

The Little Hours In theaters | 90 minutes | R | Comedy, Romance

Foul-mouthed, sexually repressed nuns break out of their monastic habits in this 14th century comedy that’s loosely based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron” and is directed by Jeff Baena. Dave Franco plays Massetto, a virile servant who is hiding from his abusive master in a convent, and Aubrey Plaza takes on the role of Fernanda, a fierce nun who’s a force to be reckoned with, whose steely eyes dare people to uncover her real secret. Kate Micucci plays Genevra, a naive sister who finds herself getting seduced by two women, followed by a raucous celebration in the forest. Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly co-star as the convent heads.

Anthony Rapp and Jonathan Bennett play Daniel and Christopher, two men living in Los Angeles who are on the verge of tying the knot. But, as their friends arrive on the eve of the wedding, plans for their nuptials get snagged up. The ensemble drama about pre-wedding nerves, the power of commitment and the importance of friendship co-stars Alyson Hannigan (“How I Met Your Mother”), Thomas Dekker (Kaboom), Marla Sokoloff and Mackenzie Astin. The film has screened at several LGBTQ film festivals, including Outfest Los Angeles.

Atomic Blonde In theaters July 28 | 115 minutes | R | Action, Mystery, Thriller

You Can’t Escape Lithuania Available on DVD/Blu-ray | 80 minutes | Crime, Drama

Written and directed by Romas Zabarauskas, this movie from Lithuania has an unusual twist. The drama centers around an independent film actress, Indre, who kills her mother. In the hopes of saving his star, wealthy filmmaker Romas launches an effort to smuggle her out of the country, with some begrudging help from Carlos, his cute boyfriend from Mexico. Along the way Romas starts recording their encounters on his smartphone, and the stories and adventures they share lead to a wild new experimental project. 44



Talented Charlize Theron (Mad Max, Monster) takes on her most action-packed role yet as Agent Lorraine Broughton, a spy for the British government who’s at the top of her game: deadly, seductive, and highly skilled. Broughton is assigned a dangerous mission in Berlin at the height of the Cold War. The savvy M16 agent must investigate the murder of a fellow cohort with Her Majesty’s Secret Service, deliver vital documents and acquire a list of people who may have double-crossed the crown. James McAvoy and John Goodman co-star.

Hans Pedersen is a freelance writer based in Phoenix. MOVIES

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Music Bear Tony Banks drops first single off upcoming album By Nikole Tower


elf described as a gay, black man with the fun of Missy Elliot, the swag of LL Cool J and the dance moves of Heavy D, Music Bear Tony Banks is a 36-year-old hip-hop artist who refuses to conform to any box, label or genre. Earlier this month, the artist recently dropped the music video for his song “Static,” a funky track with a hip-hop with a message. On his forthcoming EP, Yes Homo, he tackles such issues as love, lust, partying, the state of hip-hop and police brutality – what he considers a full depiction of what it means to be a black, gay, male, hip-hop artist in 2017.

Echo caught up with the Music Bear following the release of “Static,” and here’s what he had to say. Echo: Congrats on your forthcoming EP Yes Homo. What can listeners expect on this album? Banks: This is probably the most thought out lyricist album I’ve ever done. It’s sort of like my F-U to everything - the gay community, the police, love, hatred, my love letter to my partner. There are a lot of things that are really emotional and meaningful to me. Not everything is based on my life, it’s not my diary. People

have topics and situations that they go through all the time and they can relate to me and I can relate to them. That becomes their story and their way of expressing themselves through music. Echo: Do you see music as a platform for advocacy? How to you tackle topics that aren’t so easy to talk about? Banks: It’s everyone’s fight, everyone’s struggle. I’m just trying to do my part to make people know there is another way to do things. It’s not just black and white especially in my case when it comes to LGBT[Q] hip hop. Everyone feels like you have to be a certain way to be accepted … You can be a more masculine guy and still appreciate lyricism and hip hop and love men. The gay world is one way and the straight world wants you to be a straight thug rapper. I can just be myself now and be accepted. It’s a different world nowadays and people have to learn that the old breed is going to die out eventually. You have this new wave of hip hop artists and these young artists who are gender-bending everything and the people are loving it. Young kids are loving it so eventually these old bastards are going to die away and the young guys are going to rise up. You won’t need the term “gay rapper” it’ll just be rapper. The stereotypes we learned are going to be Photo courtesy of

pushed away until we just have artist. It’s not just being a rapper that’s why I don’t call myself a rapper. I’m a hip hop artist – artist first, rapper second. Echo: There’s been a lot of controversy around intersectionality within the LGBTQ community as of late. The song “Run!” touches on some of the issues. Will there be similar songs on your next EP? Banks: That’s the only song, per se, about police brutality. The title track “Yes Homo” is me saying F-U to the straight world … Hip hop was a product of all the works gays had done before that in the discos and the house music before hip hop ever came around. All the stereo systems, the club settings, the parties - all of those got put down by gay men. If you look at the show “The Get Down” all those DJs were gay. Who put music on the radio? It was all gay men buying the music... If it wasn’t for gay men and women there would be no hip hop. Echo: What would your advice be to anyone who is just starting out but doesn’t see anyone like themselves out there doing their thing and experiencing success? Banks: It’s going to take some time to realize who you are as an artist but once you do stick to your guns and then fight for everything after that. Don’t change with the times because people want you to be something that you’re not.

READ THE REST For Echo’s full interview with Music Bear Tony Banks, visit

Nikole Tower, an Arizona native currently attending ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has an extreme case of wanderlust and an insatiable passion for music. 46





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between the covers

Surpassing Certainty By Terri Schlichenmeyer


hen you were 20, you wanted only to impress. If people looked at you, wasn’t that good? You wanted to be seen, watched, adored by those you saw as desirable.

But what, exactly, did you want people to notice? Was it your hair, your body or, as in Surpassing Certainty by Janet Mock, was the whole you on display? At age nineteen, Janet Mock should never have been where she was, three nights a week. Her Thursday-through-Saturday schedule was meant for women over 21; that was the legal age for dancing as a stripper in a Waikiki clubs, but the proprietress of the club jokingly offered to “give” Mock two of her own birthdays, and that was that: Mock was a dancer, albeit a self-conscious one. She was afraid that someone could spot her secret from the bar rail. At a very young age, Mock knew she was a girl in a boy’s body. Her mother looked the other way while Mock wore feminine clothing and grew out her hair, and she ignored when Mock started taking female hormones as an adolescent. After saving every penny, Mock flew to Bangkok to finalize her transition at eighteen; months later, she realized that nobody saw her as anything but a pretty black woman. But the club, well, money was good there and she settled in. She sometimes made a cool grand a week, and she didn’t have to sleep with customers; the club’s owner, in fact, urged her girls not to do so. “Love can wait,” she’d said, but when Mock met the man she’d ultimately marry, there was no reason not to take the plunge. He was a Navy man who took Mock’s truth in stride, but the two grew apart: Mock quit dancing before she quit the marriage to move to New York City to attend college, where she felt empowered as a woman in control of her life. She made friends, decided what she wanted to do with her life, landed the job of her dreams and, “I was home.” Filled with florid prose and swoony drama, Surpassing Certainty is one of 48



those memoirs that feels like a long conversation. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending. In speaking directly to readers, Mock offers an aura of girlfriendship. We’re privy to many details – maybe even too many – and the information is meted out as if we’re all “Sex-inthe-City” in a bistro somewhere on a Sunday afternoon. And yet, this conversation doesn’t seem to have a point. Mock writes at great length about stripping. She tells about her many loves, fusses too much about her appearance and shares thoughts about men that reflect her youth at the time. Except for a juicy admission of omission in

Surpassing Certainty by Janet Mock. Atria, 2017 | $24.99.

her last book, this seemed like a lot of navel-gazing. Sigh. If you read Mock’s first memoir and are eager for more, by all means, find this one because you’ll love it. For most readers, though, Surpassing Certainty may not completely impress. Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm, lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 13,000 books. She’s been reading since age 3 and, to this day, she never goes anywhere without a book. books


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between the covers

Before I Do By Terri Schlichenmeyer


he box was too small for a toaster. There was no pony in there, no new car, not even a stuffed animal. The box was too small for all that, but it held so much more: dreams, ideas, happiness and congratulations! And if you’re lucky, your wise new fiancé tucked Before I Do by Elizabeth F. Schwartz in the box with your beautiful engagement ring. So, you put a ring on it, made the proposal, and now you’ve got a wedding to plan. It’s all quite exciting, but slow down a minute. If you’ve grown up thinking that this day would never come, then you might not’ve thought about what marriage entails. “LGBT[Q] people,” explains Schwartz, “have not lived in a world with premarital guidance for LGBT[Q] couples. We have suffered systemic exclusion …” Just because you can be married now is no reason that you should, she points out. Yes, you’re in love, and yes, you’ve


been together forever but now’s the time to be sure you know exactly what you’re in for. That starts by asking yourselves a series of difficult but important questions. Once you’ve gotten that (perhaps uncomfortable) part out of the way, be sure that any past relationships are completely and legally finished and “do not create confusion with multiple statuses with multiple people.” Know what paperwork you need in order to proceed, and what questions you’ll be asked as you’re filling it out. This pre-wedding period is a good time to talk to a financial expert, a tax consultant and a lawyer. Don’t trust word-of-mouth to protect your finances; the laws in your state may horrify you, if wedded bliss goes bust. Talk about debt: how much each of you has, and how you perceive it. Educate yourself on insurance coverage, asset protection, pre-nups and estate planning. And if all this preparation makes you start to think that maybe marriage isn’t such a good idea after all, Schwartz says it’s OK. There are valid reasons for not taking the plunge, and there are alternatives. One of them may be a much better fit for you.

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Getting engaged is such an exciting time. Putting the brakes on everything isn’t the most romantic notion, but it’s maybe the most prudent. Before I Do explains why. Though she says her advice in this book is appropriate for anyone, Schwartz focuses more on gay and lesbian couples, as well as transgender individuals and their prospective spouses. She does so, in part, because she feels that they’ve only seen marriage “on the fringes.”

Before I Do by Elizabeth F. Schwartz, afterword by Jim Obergefell. The New Press, 2016 | $14.95.

That somewhat sets this book apart from the thousands of other weddingplanner books on bookshelves; what really makes it different, however, is that Schwartz admits her no-nonsense words may talk prospective brides and grooms out of having a wedding. Truth: readers who might’ve somehow taken marriage lightly before will absolutely be convinced otherwise. “Failure to plan has terrible consequences,” says Schwartz, and this book erases that omission. Read Before I Do, though, and rest assured that you can toast one another smarter.

Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm, lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 13,000 books. She’s been reading since age 3 and, to this day, she never goes anywhere without a book. books

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for ourselves and we served our guests individual (obscenely delicious) chocolate or vanilla cupcakes. 2. When the going gets tough, the tough employ bricolage. As mentioned in the point above, we definitely took the planning path of “making it up as we went along,” and frequently that meant practicing bricolage, or the art of creating something amazing using whatever one has at hand. A random trip to our favorite New Age rock shop helped us realize that their attached classroom had the perfect ambiance for our ceremony. We found crafting supplies at home that allowed us to send delicate-looking handwritten invitations using shiny gold ink. Our planning period felt fun and improvisational, but never chaotic.

Love’s Lessons Learned By Liz Massey


or the last several decades of the 20th century, the wedding industry was a place where out LGBTQ people sometimes worked, but weren’t allowed to be consumers. Although I’ve found some books on queer weddings that date back to the late 1980s, during my first decade in the community, the 1990s, the same-sex weddings I attended were largely DIY and were held expressly for the purpose of declaring the couple’s commitment to each other. In my own relationship, my partner, Pat, and I brought different perspectives to the marriage question. She had spent 17 years married to her ex-husband, so she had experienced the classic American church wedding before I was out of short pants. Perhaps because of my rejection of girly things as a child, and my embrace of my natural androgyny later on, I had no vision of what an authentic wedding scenario might look like for me. Throughout our first dozen years as a couple, Pat and I would revisit the wedding question on a regular basis, but never actually act on our conversations. Finally, on Valentine’s Day in 2011, we discovered that we both wanted to talk about having a wedding, and this time, we immediately started acting to make it a reality. We managed to pull together an event for 35 people in less than three months, something I’m convinced was possible because we’d already moved across the country together twice, helped other family members plan their weddings, and collaborated on numerous other largescale projects together.




We were anything but the typical American wedding couple. We didn’t overplan OR overspend. We didn’t model our ceremony on any specific tradition. Because of all the years we’d already spent together, this ceremony was a vignette in our ongoing life together, and not an epic volume. Because our wedding drew so heavily upon our consciously chosen uniqueness, I think there are lessons about how we approached our wedding that could be useful to any LGBTQ person contemplating exchanging vows with their beloved. Here are five of most widely applicable things I learned from my not-so-big gay wedding, in no particular order: 1. This is one of your best chances to share who you are as a couple with the world. It would be an understatement to say that Pat and I have blazed our own trail through life. So, when it came to each decision point about the ceremony, we considered what seemed most fitting for us, rather than how it would be received. We resolved a worry that we would both blubber t hrough singing at the event by prerecording our guitar/ vocal duo performance and stocking a healthy playlist on our iPod. Our outfit options took us on a sartorial journey that started with sparkly pantsuits, wound its way through matching tuxes and high-heeled suede boots, and finally ended up with a look that we described as “hippie casual.” Instead of the traditional white wedding cake, we made a lovely huge brownie cake

3. If you can’t hire a wedding planner, leverage the power of self-organizing teams. At our rehearsal, the night before the wedding, we also decorated the space where the ceremony was held. There was no “boss” there to oversee the operation, just us and all of our friends and relatives munching on pizza, hanging paper ornaments, decorating the refreshments table, and generally having a great time. 4. Pay attention to scale. We never aspired to compile a huge guest list, and I strongly believe that kept our adventure on the joyful side. 5. The wedding is not just one event, it’s a series of happenings. Once our wedding week was in progress, we realized everything that happened – greeting our out-of-town guests, preceremony shopping, the rehearsal dinner and the day-after trip to Sedona – were all part of our experience. There were special because of the memories created and laughter was shared every step of the way. Looking back on it more than six years later, I realize that my wedding was as much about collaboration and creativity as it was about celebrating the love my partner and I felt for each other. As I remarked to Pat shortly after our ceremony, “You know, if I had realized getting married was this much fun, I would have had us do it sooner! And possibly more often!”

Liz Massey has been involved in LGBTQ community-building activities in Kansas City and the Valley of the Sun, and is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. She can be reached at


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Talking Bodies

Four ways to work out while away from the gym this summer By Tia Norris


or many of us in the Valley of the Sun, summer means getting as far away from this heat as possible! As a result, many of my clients plan their vacations during the summer months, and they try (but fail) to legitimize skipping workouts with the excuse that they won’t have access to a gym. Newsflash: You do not need a gym to get a in killer workout! Don’t get me wrong, having access to a full gym as part of your regular fitness program will afford you significantly more benefits than not having a gym. However, for your upcoming trips – from a weekend getaway to those lasting weeks at a time – you can get away with no gym if you’ve got the motivation and a bit of open space (zero equipment required). Here are four different types of traveling workouts designed to fit a wide variety of body types, intensity levels and fitness goals. Additionally, if you want to see any of these exercises performed with full explanations, check out up FitPro, LLC, on YouTube – we have more than 150 demonstration videos.

1. Pushup Purgatory This pushup workout is simple, but deadly. Select 10 pushup variations to start. If you need ideas, here is a list of my go-to techniques: regular, decline, incline, diamond, triceps, Spiderman, clapping, hand tap, side tap pike, and alligator. (Again, you can find demos for all of these on our YouTube channel.) Once you’ve got your 10 variations, start your timer. Perform 10 reps of the first variation. This should take you approximately 10-20 seconds on your first round; you will then rest until the top of the next minute, and start on 10 more reps of the second variation 54



at that point. Continue in this fashion, starting your next set of 10 at the top of every minute, until you complete all 10. This is BRUTAL! You can rest for up to five minutes, and then repeat the entire cycle once or twice more. Bonus round: If this is too easy, try 15 reps of each pushup. Good luck!

2. 300, 200, 100 Begin the workout by running a mile for time. If you have no way of tracking distance, run for five minutes, stop, turn around and then run the five minutes back. When you return, perform the following: • 300 step-ups with weight on your back. Step up onto a bench, a chair or other platform at around knee height. Add weight in the form of a backpack or handheld objects. • 200 RDLs (Romanian Deadlifts). Hold two objects like water jugs or bags filled with equally weighted items, one in each hand, and perform 100 walking lunges. Finish with running the same mile you did in the beginning.

• Group 1: Squats (x5); Jumping lunges (x8); 1 legged/pistol squats (x2 each leg) • Group 2: King squats (x3 each leg); step ups (x3 each leg); jump squats (x5) Bonus round: Make each wall sit 90 seconds or two minutes; and/or perform each group seven times.

4. TABATA Take each of the following exercises, and complete eight (yes, eight) cycles of 20 seconds MAXIMAL effort, followed by 10 seconds rest also known as 8x20/10. Maximal does not mean “kind of trying” or “putting forth some effort,” it means devoting every fiber of your mental and physical being to the task at such a degree that your body might spontaneously combust. After each four-minute cycle, rest for two minutes and then repeat the format with the next exercise. Enjoy! • Pushups • Burpees • Bench clears • Jump squats

Bonus round: double the running miles or double the main set!

• Step-ups


There are no excuses, people! These workouts should take no more than about 30 minutes to complete! Don’t forget, the best part of burning all these calories while traveling is that it gives your more clearance to indulge in the food and beverages while pampering yourself on vacation. Now it’s up to you now to make it happen!

This stands for “every minute on the minute.” For the groups of exercises below, you’ll set your timer, perform all tasks in the group and then rest until the top of the next minute. Keeping in mind that the faster you complete a round, the more rest you’ll have. Repeat this five times for each group and hold weights for anything you can – the goal is to make it difficult! Perform a 60 second wall sit at the start and finish of each group. That’s four total wall sits per round.

Bonus round: Repeat all exercises TWICE and then add your own!

Tia Norris is the president and head trainer at FitPro, LLC, a local fitness company. Find out more at HEALTH & FITNESS

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Echo Magazine August 2017  

Echo Magazine – Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entertainment. August 2017 Issue....

Echo Magazine August 2017  

Echo Magazine – Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entertainment. August 2017 Issue....