As I sit in my office at the New LGBTQI Center, temporarily at 1300 Locust Street, in downtown Des Moines, my eyes are drawn to a matted and framed copy of an April 30th, 2009 DSM Register article, about my launching a business called “Gay Weddings with PANACHE”.
The photos featured are of my best friend Jeff Jacox’s home and main dining room, where we hosted dozens of truly fabulous parties, and launched my reality television career.
Jeff passed away this September 17th at dawn, after surviving AIDS for 23 years.
We met while I was then Vice-President Al Gore’s personal steward, during a state-wide bus tour in 1999. Jeff took me “under his wing” that trip and my life changed forever.
He also is partly responsible for every¬thing I have accomplished these past 3 years of Gay Marriage in our great state. By believing in me from the very start, unconditionally , he helped put together our states’ first (and only so-far) Gay Weddings Expo by writing the check for it.
He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. And that, my friends, DEFINES friendship.
This months’ column is dedicated to Jeff Jacox, and our friendship.
And since I’m still alittle “out-of-sorts” with my loss, and helping plan a FABULOUS catered memorial with all of his friends, well, a letter I recieved from a young Groom who was also married this September 17th, seems fitting to share with you.
And next month, look forward to a column about upcoming fairytale nuptials in Burlington, Iowa. What a fabulous Gay community, with fabulous wedding and reception venues from beanfields to ball¬rooms (and the true hospitality from the Arrowhead Lodge).
Hi. My name is Jake Auliff and I recently married my partner of eight and a half years, David Lewis. Let me start off by saying that I am an engineer by profession, which means that I am a detail-oriented person, which ultimately means that I am basically a control freak. So without saying I went into this adventure with high expectations. David and I both knew Beau socially and had the opportunity to witness his event planning in action, so we knew that he was a very competent and able planning profes¬sional. We also wanted to be guests at our own wedding, so this meant hiring Beau to be our planner.
That didn’t stop me from arriving at our first meeting with laptop and Excel spreadsheet in hand! I thought that I had already planned out every detail, down to the number of glasses of wine or beer, or cheese balls each person would be allowed (crazy, I know). I got the distinct feeling that this wasn’t how Beau rolled, but he was very flexible, always available to offer advice, and to offer suggestions that tweaked our event for the better. He knew the best invita¬tion company to work with (and I received innumerable compliments on them), he had contacts in the catering business and knew which buttons to push to get exactly what we wanted. For the rehearsal dinner he pulled some magical strings and had the restau¬rant seat us in the best spot and prepared an amazing custom table setting. And even though David and I knew exactly the venue we wanted for our wedding to take place, Beau networked with the owners and opera¬tors to allow us to light off 150 three foot high Chinese floating lanterns, which truly made our event spectacular and fostered a sense of interaction and togetherness among our wedding guests. I overheard several guests during the lantern lighting say “This is going to put this place on the map.” That is quite a compliment for a relatively small gay wedding. All this wouldn’t have been possible without Beau’s assistance.
Beau worked on site for several days before, and after, preparing for our event and left no detail unexamined. I can’t count the number of friends and family and neighbors who said afterwards that it was far and away the best wedding they had ever attended. Throughout the wedding planning process I gave Beau all kinds of grief and frustra¬tion by my independent initiatives, and he will surely admit as much! But by keeping the lines of communication open always, and making sure to keep the big picture in mind, we three together have stayed friends and ended up with an event that was all that David & I had dreamed about and saved for, for years.