A visit to almost any jeweler quickly tells same-sex couples that the wedding band industry is still stuck in traditions. So when his home state approved marriage equality, gay New Yorker Sam Street decided to create a new line for people like him.
Proposition Love was founded in July 2011 and creates wedding rings for same-sex couples and gay pride rings while always donating at least 10% of its proceeds to the eight charities that Street supports on marriage equality, LGBT youth and anti-bullying, and HIV/AIDS activism. But a new "LOVE IS LOVE" Celebrity Charity Auction will send 100% of the cash to a charity selected by celebrities who have helped design 10 wedding bands.
The big names include Kathy Griffin, Travis Wall, and Perez Hilton (who are donating to The Trevor Project and The Point Foundation) and bidding is open until December 18. Street said he first approached the celebrities with ideas. He explained that Propostion Love usually incorporates a triangle "as a symbol of the ongoing gay rights movement" into the designs and then the celebs used that as a jumping off point for their own ideas.
The Advocate spoke with Street about his own marriage, what makes for a good ring, and which of the celebrity designs is his favorite. Check out the designs on the following pages.
The Advocate: What inspired you to make jewelry that also supports marriage equality?
Sam Street: Everyone should have the right to marry who they love. No one should be denied their basic civil rights. Just days after our wedding in San Francisco in 2008, Proposition 8 was voted in. The fact that the right to marry was given to us and denied to others prompted us to become proactive in the marriage equality movement.
How does someone like Kathy Griffin, a comedian, go about helping design a piece of jewelry?
Working with Kathy Griffin was a great experience, she wanted to appeal to her audience by creating an affordable and fashionable piece of jewelry. Kathy loved the symbolic triangle and used her initial "K" to play off the triangle to create the inset of the band. On the edges of her ring are her signature XOXO's. Her ideas went from her design on paper, to a computer-generated design to a live piece of jewelry.
Of the 10 rings up for charity auction, do you have a personal favorite for any reason?
We love all of the rings. Picking a favorite is impossible, like asking who your favorite child is. We worked closely with all of the celebrities and they each have their own point of view and experience. Perez Hilton wanted a ring with black diamonds. Tori Spelling loved the idea of a yellow gold band with the iconic triangles. Melissa Rivers wanted rings that are interlocking. Patti Stanger specifically wanted to work on an EnGAYgement(tm) ring. The Guncles inspiration was Gay Adoption, so they engraved "Love Makes A Family" into their ring design. Travis Wall chose a braided pattern to represent two people uniting. Eliza Coupe took a fashion forward approach using an elongated triangle.
What do you think, are same-sex couples redefining how the world has pictured wedding band designs by taking more risks? These designs don't seem all that traditional.
Absolutely! When we shopped for our wedding rings we couldn't find anything that we loved. That experience prompted us to design a line of jewelry that is fashionable and a collection that the gay community can identify with and claim as their own. We also offer traditional rings for those who prefer a classic design. Jayson Blair's ring is classic but he personalized it with the inscription "Til the End."
From a designer's perspective, can a wedding band be anything a person wants? Or must it have a few elements that make it right for the occasion?
Traditionally a wedding ring symbolizes the eternity of a couples love and commitment to one another, as people have varying ways of expressing themselves their ring should most definitely be a symbol of their individuality.
From top to bottom:
- Melissa Rivers, benefitting the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
- Tori Spelling, benefitting LAMBDA Legal.
- Bill Horn and Scout Masterson --"The Guncles" (engraved with message: "Love Makes a Family"), LAMBDA Legal.
- Patti Stanger, benefitting NOH8 Campaign; Eliza Coupe, benefitting the Human Rights Campaign.
- Jayson Blair, (engraved with message "Til the End"), benefitting The Baby Dragon Fund.
(Check out the auction until December 18 via Charity Buzz)