Get To Know More About This KY Couple Fighting For Our Community

photo via Kyra Rookard Photography

Josh Taylor and Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. met, indicative of their absolute nerdiness, in a graduate-level French linguistics class. They’ve been together since, traveling the world, listening to Celine Dion, and somehow never leaving college. Willie is the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, a board member of the Kentucky Youth Law Project, the author of Gay Poems for Red States (forthcoming, June 23), a book of stories told through narrative poetry about his experience growing up queer in Appalachia, and a speaker whose focus on injustice, LGBTQ rural youth, and dignity have taken him around the country, including to the US Congress, where he testified before the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Josh is an artist, a devoted fan of French-speaking divas who commercially peaked in 1997, and an international education enthusiast who has lived and worked in Paris, Montreal, and Quebec City. The bulk of Josh’s career has been in higher-ed student services, where he inspires students to up their get-hired game, take charge of their future, and design a life that’s aligned with how they define success.


Josh and Willie met in Georgia in 2007, and, as the story goes, soon adopted a cat named Lucy, moved to Vermont, eventually relocated back to Kentucky, and on the day of Joe Biden’s election, added a kitten named Clayton to the family. Lucy’s the boss. As educators, Willie and Josh work to provide the best possible futures for Kentucky students. Willie is a powerhouse force on Twitter calling out the bigoted GOP any and every chance he gets. One person can and does make a difference and Willie and Josh know and feel that in their souls and live each day trying to make the world a better place one student at a time. 

Instinct Magazine is honored to call Willie and Josh an Instinct Couple We Stan. Get to know more about them as they answer our questionnaire! 




Name: Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr.

Age: 39

Website / social media handles: / Facebook: Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. / Twitter: WillieETCarver / TikTok: @willieetcarver


Where do you call home? Montgomery County, Kentucky

Name: Josh Taylor

Age: 42

Website/social media handles: none


Where do you call home? Montgomery County, Kentucky


How did you two initially meet and was it love at first sight?


We were both students in a French linguistics class at the University of Georgia. Willie was already seated. He would have laughed at the idea of love at first sight 60 seconds before meeting Josh, but when Josh walked in, he felt electricity in the air and willed the universe to have Josh sit in front of him. Josh did. When they were passing around syllabi, Willie had to touch Josh, so he tapped his shoulder to ask for a copy. We were living together before midterms.

What is your favorite thing to love about each other?

Willie: Josh is sensitive and kind, easily moved to tears for other people. He is optimistic and believes that good will come, no matter how much not-good he has witnessed. I love to see Josh look at things, too. He moves slowly. He expects beauty.

Josh: Willie is, above all else, a fundamentally caring soul, and that springs from his compassion and strength of character. His gentle kindness, his contagious enthusiasm, his hilarious wit … there’s everything to love about Willie. He’s one of a kind.




Are you monogamous or in an open relationship? How do you make either work?


We are monogamous and have been for sixteen years. Josh’s experience before Willie was monogamous; Willie … not so much. Still, it feels natural and right to be who we are as we are. Even when we were married, it was just the two of us and a Justice of the Peace on the steps of the Burlington, Vermont courthouse. No one else. We’re soul mates, and so we wanted the moment we were married to simply, yet fully, be a sacred reminder of that special connection between us. But everyone on earth is unique, so kudos to whatever works for anyone else!

What was COVID like for the two of you? Did it bring you closer together?

Despite the fear and uncertainty we were all navigating during the early days of the pandemic, it was without question a paradoxically beautiful season in our lives. We enjoy each other’s company and the lockdown gave us a chance to be calm, be purposeful, and be together. We were the type who didn’t leave the house at all during the worst part of it–so we spent our days getting up early, reading, having lunch outside in the backyard, and going to bed early. We spent almost seven months like this.

Willie: Josh went back to work before I did. I cried the day he left because I realized that, if we’re lucky, we won’t experience anything like this in our lives for another 30 years.




Has the topic of adopting or having kids via surrogate ever come up?


On Willie’s side, we have nine nephews, all rambunctious country boys! We have a niece and a nephew on Josh’s side, too. And, as a teacher, Willie has had 200 students a year that he took care of for almost 20 years, so we stay busy! We’ve also been mentors to a few young adults over the years, just as we were supported when we were younger (both, in fact, by the same woman, a French professor, whose last name we both keep as a way of honoring her).

What is the best advice you would give to anyone who is looking for love out there but hasn’t found it?

Willie: Stop stressing. You’re already whole and strong. Love yourself. Be your own love first. And when the time comes, it comes.

Josh: The Universe sends the right people into our lives at just the right time, and love can come to us in so many forms: the love of friends, of family, of life-guides. As for the love of a partner, well, we can all find timeless wisdom in the lyrics of any song on any album released by Celine Dion. And she really let us have it in the mid to late 90s. Start there. I sure as heck did.







What is your all-time favorite movie?

Willie: If happy, Clueless. If angry, Saved. If sad, Clueless.

Josh: Steel Magnolias


Who is your biggest celebrity crush?

Willie: Paul Rudd.

Josh: Ewan McGregor

What is your favorite cheat meal or snack?


Willie: Country answer: biscuits and gravy

Josh: The Krystal drive-thru, double-cheese-Krystals combo. With Coke Zero, naturally. That makes a difference, right?

If you were stuck on an island for eternity, what music album would you want to have with you?

Willie: What a question! Um … Salt-N-Pepa, Very Necessary. We’re gonna need a range, and they have it!


Josh: Can I bring three? Lara Fabian’s Papillion, RuPaul’s Born Naked, and Jennifer Knapp’s Letting Go. If only the one, Jennifer Knapp’s Letting Go.


What does it mean to be featured as the Instinct Couple We Stan?


Willie: It’s a rough time to be queer of any sort, and I’m old enough to have lived through this a time or two already. We know the drill. So, I remember that I must love myself and believe myself worthy of everything so I can’t let any ugliness stick, you know? So as unexpected as it is, I think, Hell yeah, I’m an Instinct Hottie. I need to live the life a young version of me wouldn’t have yet been able to dream. And so I am, consequently, incredibly grateful for it.

Josh: Wholly unexpected (laughs), and something I’d not have even been able to conceive growing up a closeted, Southern Baptist evangelical in suburban Atlanta in the 80s and 90s. When I began coming out at age 19, there was an iconic Atlanta LGBTQ bookstore, called Outwrite, and its very existence played a transformative role in my ability to imagine a future for myself as a gay man. The visibility and community I discovered in the pages of the books and magazines sold at Outwrite are gifts I’ll never forget, and I hold those memories with such gratitude.



Anything else you’d like to share with the Instinct readers?

Willie: Love yourself in all of your iterations, past and present. Believe you’re worthy of whatever help you need so that you are willing to ask for it. And thank you.

Josh: Find as many reasons as you can to laugh, smile, and appreciate those who love you. And I’m serious about Lara Fabian, y’all. She’s everything.



1 thought on “Get To Know More About This KY Couple Fighting For Our Community”

  1. I had a teacher growing up who fought for gay rights all his life, he was gay & recently passed away. Thankful to have teachers standing up for gay students.


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