We sought to create beauty through music. In fact, that’s exactly how we met. Toast was the opening act at a concert Siena was a part of. The concert was in Toast’s hometown, where Siena had spent her summers growing up, in Hilo, Hawaii.
A strong bond grew quickly between us. It came from our shared sense of history, place and sensibility. We had Hilo in common, but we also found out that we’d worked at the same resort in Waikiki and had been influenced by the same books (one of them was The Artists’s Way by Julia Cameron). We also shared similar philosophies on songwriting, experiences in the music industry, and underneath it all, the dream of making a difference.
Makena is the Hawaiian word for abundance, and we took that name for our duo, wanting to bring that sense of abundance to the world. As strong as it was, though, our love of music would soon take a back seat to another kind of affection.
In the meantime, we performed. At coffee houses, festivals, 5-star restaurants, weddings, churches, on an Olivia vacation cruise…we even secured a sponsorship from Sam Ash Music and eventually worked our way up to playing in a concert in Hollywood that aired on national T.V. (LOGO, an MTV network for the LGBT market) and then we signed on with a Grammy winning indy record label.
It was all very exciting, but not as exciting as the relationship that developed between us while doing all these gigs. Funny thing: Toast didn’t even know Siena was gay when we first met. Siena, on the other hand, knew Toast was a dyke from a mile away because, well, look at her. We were afraid to give in to our feelings at first, because what if it broke up the band?
Turns out we had nothing to worry about. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. The music saved our relationship whenever things got rocky. If we had a fight, the tension evaporated once we started singing at the next gig, which was usually that night. What we felt when we sang somehow healed our connection. It reminded us that our differences were so small compared to our love and the beauty of working together to literally create harmony between us. Only in hindsight did we realize that our original dream of making a difference through music ended up making a difference for ourselves, too.
It was a big whirlwind. We played so many gigs we lost count. And of all the crazy places we played, including 10 days on an ocean liner full of lesbians, two types of gigs led to this website and to you reading this.
The first type was the LGBT gig: pride festivals, benefits, and activist events. The second was the church-related gig: singing to inspire the best in human nature and leading groups in songs of devotion to that ideal. These two worlds would collide on one of the most important days of our life.
After eleven years of being together, we got married on December 15, 2013 on a cliff top in Palos Verdes, California.
Along with being a beautiful place, SoCal is also known for its laid back, open minded, and progressive culture. And in our daily lives, this made it easier for us to be out to everyone.
So, it was surprising and not in a good way, to still be feeling a tinge of what we can only call internalized homophobia, as we prepared for the ceremony in front of passersby who could obviously tell this was a wedding about to take place. They turned their heads as they walked, some smiled. But could they tell this was a lesbian wedding? We wondered. If so, were they judging us, looking down on us, wishing us any good or maybe even ill? These are not the kinds of thoughts that straight couples deal with on their wedding day. It was a disturbing realization. Even after all the legal strides made for LGBT equality, after all the acceptance from our family, friends, and co-workers, all the years of being out to ourselves and others, there was still work to do. But it would be a kind of spiritual work, a work on the culture of being gay or lesbian.
And that brings us to today.
Our original mission of making a difference continues.
What our wedding day taught us is that there is an opportunity to make a difference in the spiritual and cultural side of being gay and lesbian.
The exciting thing is, this difference has the potential to benefit not only each of us today, but also the generations to come. The reason is that, far from being merely abstract concepts with no bearing on real life, the cultural and spiritual strength of a people impacts all practical aspects of their daily living: health, relationships, family life, and all the things that flow from it, including social, economic, and political mobility.
We want to build an ethos that uplifts and educates the best of our human nature as gay and lesbian people.
So we’re setting out to build a sanctuary that stokes the fires that burn in all of us who want to make a difference.
The dream is that together,
we can build something beautiful for future generations,
so they can make a difference, too.