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    In Memorium: Tom Taylor: 9/8/1943–10/20/2020

    The world has lost a gentle giant. Tom Taylor passed away on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 7:37 am at the side of his devoted husband of 48 years, Dr. Jerome Goldstein, in their fabulous home atop the hill in the Castro where they generously hosted so many memorable gatherings. The family thanks all those who have shared kind words and love during this difficult time and ask for your patience as private and public services are being considered. Jerry’s recovery from a recent surgery and current pandemic restrictions make immediate plans difficult.

    Born on September 8, 1943, in Richmond, California, to Cecil Martin and Erma Cora Jesse Taylor (who preceded him in death), Thomas Jesse Taylor demonstrated crafty talent and creative ingenuity early on. He was an outstanding Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, and Cub Scout Jr. Leader.

    With only a Richmond High School degree, his career started in hairdressing, where his flare and wit made him quickly sought after by prominent members of San Francisco society. From coiffing hair and chatting with movers and shakers in the City, Tom began to apply his natural creativity and love of beauty to various projects, including entertainment, costuming, prop construction, retail, décor, and ambiance, never asking for credit, but always ready to help.  

    As Dr. Jerome Goldstein’s partner, property management soon became part of his portfolio, utilizing self-taught skills in electricity, plumbing, and construction. In the 1970s, they moved together into the little 1920s era cottage on 21st Street and began its magical transformation into the sprawling location for so many celebrations, memorials, tributes, fundraisers, and other parties. 

    Countless nonprofit organizations benefited from events hosted in their home, complete with hot and cold food, drink, and incomparable hospitality. This became a tangible representation of the couple’s extraordinary philanthropy, supporting both small, growing agencies and larger, established groups, across a wide spectrum of LGBTQ and other causes. From his sister-in-law’s graduation and niece’s wedding to a host of other family gatherings, Tom had a knack for making it look effortless, but feel absolutely grand. Indeed, if Tom was in charge, you knew the mothership had landed and Elvis was in the house.

    The unmistakable landmark of the property became the Norfolk Island pine, originally a 3-foot house plant that grew to a 65-foot towering tree, elaborately decorated each December to the delight of the neighborhood and the City. The San Francisco Bay Times called it “a beacon of holiday joy and a symbol of the very best about this season.” Tom was particularly proud when Richard Gutierrez’s documentary Making Christmas: The View from the Tom & Jerry Christmas Tree was included in the 2011 Frameline Film Festival and whenABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight invited their participation in 2018.

    The couple’s wedding ceremony in 2013 took place on the steep street in front of their home with hundreds of guests seated on the asphalt in folding chairs, a rather defiant statement of their proud position in the City and their love of each other. Dr. Robert Akeley and Gilbert Baker officiated.

    Tom’s friendship with Gilbert Baker, the creator of the iconic Rainbow Flag for the LGBTQ Community, led to a lifetime commitment, carefully watching over the flag in Harvey Milk Plaza through the Diversity Foundation and enthusiastically decorating events far and wide with swaths of rainbow fabric. The book Rainbow Warrior: My Life in Color reveals how important his role was in developing and spreading this unifying international symbol of hope. Tom was instrumental in the completion of the incredible mile-long rainbow flag unveiled in New York for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1994. Tom spent his adult life as a proud gay man and encouraged others to do the same, especially in the height of the AIDS epidemic. He defied his 1983 AIDS diagnosis and later fought prostate cancer for 17 years, a true survivor, not one to complain of constant treatments, but determined to enjoy life.

    Longtime friend Russell Kassman wrote of Tom Taylor and Jerome Goldstein: “As a young 25-year-old, these two were successful, out gay men, and were everything I hoped to become, and to achieve some day. They taught me what it meant to be out and proud, and the responsibility to community one has when one is successful.”

    Patrick Carney, the man behind the Pink Triangle Project, wrote: “Tom Taylor was everywhere in service to every one of us.  Rarely will any of us meet the likes of such generosity, humbleness, community-devotion, as well as extravagance again.”  

    Tall, blond, and handsome, Tom was a loving husband, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, colleague, and LGBTQ advocate. He is survived by his husband Dr. Jerome Goldstein and a family who considered him the glue that kept them together, including brother Dwight Taylor and his wife Lola, nephews Leonard and Robert and wife Natasha, grandnieces Caitlyn and Sophia, grandnephew Aaron, great grandniece Olivia, brother Martin Taylor and his wife the late Suzie, niece Angie and husband Doug, grandnephew Thomas, sister Lee Ann Taylor Lester and husband David, nephew Aaron, grandniece Isabella, sister Barbara Taylor Andreozzi and husband Bob, niece Brittney Souza and husband Rodney, grandniece Abrianna, grandnephews Anthony and Vincent, niece Belinda De Verniero and husband John, grandniece Natasha Given and husband Dalton, grandnieces Victoria and Serafina, grandnephew Luciano, the Papendorf and Layn families, and a host of friends whom he considered family-by-choice. 

    The many events Tom & Jerry hosted and projects they produced were made possible by a loyal team, including Paul Valente, Jose and Alex Lazo, Benji Fujita, Toby Pak, Mario Chacon, Hunter Padilla, Manny Salazar, Manuel Contreras, and Jon Orque.  All those listed and so many others will never forget the many kindnesses, wild inventiveness, quiet modesty, and contagious laughter of Tom Taylor.

    Published on November 5, 2020