Republican negative reaction to trans military ban grows

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 10:57am

As Trump doubles down on his transgender bigotry, opposition to his position increases and his excuse to discriminate — cost — gets examined.

Human Rights Campaign offered some comparisons:

• Security for Melania Trump to stay in Trump Tower for six months: $26.8 million
(This doesn’t include lost business along 5th Avenue because of street closures)
• Trump’s weekend golf trips to Mar-A-Lago: $20 million
(This doesn’t include loss of business in Palm Beach because of bridge and road closures to the island)
Trans healthcare in the military for a year: $2.4-8.4 million

And here’s what the Republican reaction has been (quotes from the Washington Post, CNN and US News and World Report)

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, was still open to a ban, but thought the military should weigh in and policy should be set via Twitter. He said, “The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said, “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said, “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the policy the President tweeted today.”

The only additional information he got was that the military doesn’t plan to discriminate.

A spokesperson for Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate, said, “While she believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said, “You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve.”

Sen. Thom Tillis R-N.C., “I would have significant objections to any proposal that calls for a specific group of American patriots currently serving in uniform to be removed from the military.”

Former Marine and current Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said, “My initial reaction is, if you can meet those standards, we shouldn’t care who you are. So, meet the standards, and you should be able to join the military.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, said, “No American, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be prohibited from honor + privilege of serving our nation.”

Ros-Lehtinen has been a staunch LGBT ally in the House of Representatives. Her son is transgender.

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Percent of people with HIV under control doubles

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 9:44am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on the nation’s progress in HIV testing and treatment, showing that nearly half of Americans with HIV have their virus under control.

Of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States in 2014, the latest year with data available, 85 percent were diagnosed and knew they had HIV, and 49 percent had the virus under control through treatment.

CDC previously estimated that in 2010, 83 percent of people living with HIV were diagnosed, but only 28 percent had their virus under control.

Expanded availability of testing and treatment, coupled with updated treatment guidelines in 2012 that recommended treatment for all people with HIV infection, probably contributed to the success in driving down new HIV infections by 18 percent between 2010 and 2014 in the U.S.

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Pet of the Week • 07-28-17

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 7:55am

King Smalls

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Meet King Smalls, a 4-year-old, grey and white Pit Bull mix who weighs about 45 pounds. He is a very sweet boy who loves walking around, snuggling with people and getting back rubs fit for a king! He was surrendered to the SPCA of Texas on July 1 to search for a new home. He is very friendly and nice to other dogs and would love nothing more than to have a family of his own. Will it be yours? King Smalls has been neutered, microchipped and is up to date on his age-appropriate vaccinations. If you’re looking for a lot of love in a little body, come meet him today! He is a true companion looking for his soul mate! #153355
King Smalls is waiting for you at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in Dallas at 2400 Lone Star Drive near I-30 and Hampton Road. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and noon to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. In celebration of 100 Days of Summer at the SPCA of Texas, you can adopt any dog, cat, puppy or kitten for only $25 (Excluding Livestock). Regular adoption fees are $250 for puppies, $125 for adult dogs 6 months or older and kittens 0-6 months, $75 for adult cats 6 months or older and $50 for senior dogs or cats 7 years or older and VIP dogs and cats (available for adoption for 30 days or more.) Fee includes spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, a heartworm test for dogs six months and older and a FIV/FeLV test for cats 4 months and older, initial flea/tick preventative and heartworm preventative, a microchip, 30 days of PetHealth Insurance provided by PetPlan, a free 14-day wellness exam with VCA Animal Hospitals, a free year-long subscription to Activ4Pets, a rabies tag and a free leash. Call 214-742-SPCA (7722) or visit today.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.

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Obiturary • 07-28-17 • V. Gregory and B. Shankles

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 7:50am

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Vincent L. Gregory, 58, of Grover Street, Auburn passed peacefully Monday, July 17, 2017 at Auburn Community Hospital.
Vince was born in Joliet, Ill., on Feb. 24, 1959. He was the son of Steven Gregory and the late Betty Satterfield Gregory.
He was formerly an office manager for Cathedral Garden Apartments in Dallas. He was the Assistant Registrar at Emerson College.  He attended Boston Conservatory of Music, and was an extremely talented flute player. 

Vincent is survived by his devoted husband, Kenneth Dover, who shared his life for 16; years, his father Steven Gregory; his brother Michael Gregory and his wife Linda, and their children, Caitlin, Greer, Sophie and Isabel; his Aunt Floy Hougas of Illinois; and many loving friends throughout the US including close friends Steven Benjamin and John E. Johnson, Jr.

We fondly remember your love of plants and dogs, Walter and Kasper miss you.  Thank you for the beautiful music, the joyous memories, and the love you shared with everyone.  Your shining spirit will endure forever.  Heaven’s orchestra has gained a beautiful musician.

A memorial service is being planned for the fall. Donations, in lieu of flowers, in his name to Beverly Animal Shelter, 50 East River Road, Waterloo, N.Y. 13165.

Arrangements are with White Chapel Funeral Home Inc, 197 South St. Auburn, N.Y. 13021.

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OBIT-Shankles

Billy Jack Shankles, Jr. passed away surrounded by loved ones, Friday, July 14 and was laid to rest Wednesday, July 19 in Greenwood Mausoleum in Fort Worth.

Billy was born in Dallas and raised in the Dallas Metroplex. He’ll be remembered by those who knew and loved him as a caring and generous soul. His passions were tickling the ivory of his red lacquer piano, playing his saxophone and his favorite music as loud as he could and belting out his favorite tunes during karaoke in the community.

Billy’s amazing and powerful presence was felt in many ways, including his ability to befriend any stranger, especially those in need. 

Billy is preceded in death by his father, Billy Jack Shankles, Sr.; his mother Melissa Case; and brother Be-Bob.

Billy is survived by his husband, Tino Olivas; his best friend and soulmate Bryan S. Adkins; his lifelong mentor and friend Lee M. Barron; and Billy’s three Chihuahuas, Evita, Layla and Zarita. He also leaves behind his stepfather, Ron Case; his sister, Angel Lynn Cruz; his aunts Frankie, Sheila and Linda and Uncle Gary.  He will be missed by his many cousins, nieces, nephews and those who knew him well in the community as well as those who’s lives he touched briefly.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.

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Gay Agenda • 07-28-17

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 7:45am

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Have an event coming up? Email your information to Managing Editor Tammye Nash at nash@dallasvoice.com or Senior Staff Writer David Taffet at taffet@dallasvoice.com by Wednesday at 5 p.m. for that week’s issue.

Weekly: Lambda Weekly every Sunday at 1 p.m. on 89.3 KNON-FM. This week’s guest is David Brigman with USofA Pageants; United Black Ellument hosts discussion on HIV/AIDS in the black community (UBE Connected) at 7 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month at 3116 Commerce St., Suite C; Core Group Meeting every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; Fuse game night every Monday evening except the last of the month at 8 p.m. at the Fuse space in the Treymore Building, 4038 Lemmon Ave. Suite 101; FuseConnect every Wednesday from 7 p.m. For more information call or e-mail Jalenzski at 214-760-9718 ext 3 or Jalenzski@myresourcecenter.org. LGBT square dancing group Pegasus Squares meets every Sunday from 3–5 p.m. at Dallas School of Burlesque, 2924 Main St #103; Dallas Frontrunners meet for a walk or run on the Katy Trail at the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park every Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. and every Saturday at 9 a.m.; Leadership Lambda Toastmasters practices and develops speaking and leadership skills from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesdays at First Unitarian Church, third floor of the Hallman Building, 4012 St. Andrews.; Gray Pride support group from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. followed by mixer every Monday at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road; Lambda AA meets at 7 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and has a men’s meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and meets at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday at 1575 W. Mockingbird Lane #625. Call 214-267-0222 for details;
DVtv in Spayse, news and entertainment discussion live
streaming every Friday, 4–5 p.m., on
the Spayse Station YouTube channel.

JULY

July 28: Last Bag Standing
Corn Hole Tournament with two-person teams. $50 entry fee. Hosted by Chad West and Chris Moffett. Prizes. Proceeds benefit Hogg Elementary School. From 7–10 p.m. at BBBop, 828 W. Davis St. DashfortheBeads.org/last-bag-standing.

July 29: Different Strokes Golf Association (DSGA)
DSGA proudly celebrating its 20th anniversary season has a playdate open to all interested golfers at 10:08 a.m.
at Luna Vista Golf Course,
11223 Luna Road. $55 includes golf, cart and range balls. A cookout and pool party at a nearby member’s home follows. Info at DSGADallas.org or  info@DSGADallas.org.

July 29: Pride festival auditions
Audition to perform on the community stage at the Sept. 16 Pride festival in Reverchon Park from 1–4 p.m. in the Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road.

July 29: Gay For Good
G4G will be serving food, water and busing tables at The Stewpot from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sign up at GayForGood.org/dfw_g4g_the_stewpot

July 29: Texas Latino Pride
pool party
DJ Charlie Phresh, photo booth, catered bites and open bar at
TX Latino Pride’s pool party from
3–8 p.m. at 13339 Pandora Drive.
$25-50. Facebook.com/TexasLatinoPride.

July 29: Reception for Troy Perry
The Rev. Elder Troy Perry will be on hand for a reception from 7–9 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. CathedralofHope.com/47years.

July 30: CoH’s guest preacher Troy Perry
The Rev. Elder Troy Perry will be the guest preacher at 11 a.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. CathedralofHope.com/47years.

July 31: Marc Veasey
Rep. Marc Veasey speaks at the Indivisible Oak Cliff meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff,
3839 W. Kiest Blvd.

AUGUST

Aug. 1: Get Centered
Behind the scenes tour of the Resource Center led by CEO Cece Cox from
11 a.m.-noon at 5750 Cedar Springs Road.

Aug. 1: Classic Chassis Car Club
Monthly Tire Kick and Dinner. Love of old cars required, not ownership to attend at
7 p.m. at Ojeda’s, 4617 Maple Ave.

Aug. 6: An Afternoon of Disco Delight
Nia Courtland, Bianca Davenport Starr and others present songs of the 70’s and 80’s to benefit Tuckers Gift, AIDS Walk South Dallas and Coalition for Aging LGBT. Food at 4 p.m. Show at 5 p.m. Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St.

Aug. 11: DFW Pride Happy Hour
Everyone is welcome to join at this self-styled “cocktail den” From 5:30–7:30 p.m. at The Cedars Social, 1326 S Lamar St.

Aug. 11: Equality Texas Dallas
Summer Mixer
Julian Castro and Evan Wolfson are scheduled guests from 6-8 p.m. at IQ Haus, 1107 Dragon St. Tickets at EventBrite.com.

Aug. 12: Stigma-Free Workshop
Team Friendly DFW and Resource Center team up to bring the first Stigma-Free Community Workshops to Dallas, designed to foster a safe community environment where we can sit and discuss the topic of HIV in a Stigma Free space hosted by Nelson-Tebedo Clinic from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road. Free. Ticket information at EventBrite.com.

Golf

Different Strokes Golf Association plays this week at Luna Vista Golf Course. (See listing for details.)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.

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Texas adoption law harms the most vulnerable children

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 7:40am

Suzanne BryantThe 2017 Texas Law, HB 3859, which allows broad discrimination by adoption agencies will undoubtedly harm the thousands of children who have already been abused or neglected by their birth parents and desperately need loving homes.

The law allows agencies to discriminate because of any “sincerely held religious belief.”  Private adoption agencies can already set standards for foster/adopt parents based on religious beliefs.  For example, Christian Homes and Family Services in Abilene states on it’s website that adopting couples must “be of the Christian faith and both be active members of the same church, where both attend weekly.”

The real problem with the new Texas law is that it extends the right to discriminate to state-funded agencies.   Texas will spend thousands of dollars defending an unconstitutional law, which clearly violates the separation of church and state.  In the meanwhile, instead growing up in loving homes, many more children will tragically languish in “a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability are the norm.”  (Stukenberg vs. Abbot, 2015, Corpus Christi US District Court, page 255).

The clear impetus for the new law was to discourage gay and lesbian Texans from even trying to become foster/adoptive parents.  While the law may garner conservative votes, it is at the expense of these very vulnerable children.  No child should be used as a political pawn.   

Perhaps some Texas legislators sincerely believed children would be harmed in gay homes and were well intended – just uninformed.   These legislators need to look at the Columbia Law School Research Portal’s review of 79 studies, which were peer reviewed and published in scholarly journals.   “Taken together, this research forms an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children.” So, what can you do?  You can share this information with clergy, friends, family members,  – and your Texas legislators.    You can also apply to be a foster/adoptive parent. TexasFosterCare1.clickforward.com  

— Suzanne Bryant

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.

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Fostering a better life

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 7:15am

TRAC gives former foster child a chance to make the world, and the system better

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Tammye Nash  |  Managing Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

The average young adult who goes into foster care enters the system between the ages of 11 and 15, and goes through an average of eight placements and five Child Protective Services caseworkers, according to Madeline Reedy, director of the Transition Resource Action Center, a program of CitySquare (a nonprofit assisting those living in poverty) that helps young adults aging out of the foster care system adapt to life on their own.

“These kids enter care at a time when they are already rebelling and learning new and different things,” Reedy said. “Most of them come from a negative background, and they are having to tell their story to someone new every year. They are moving every six months, all over the state and even out of the state sometimes.

“That’s a lot of trauma — trauma on top of trauma. It’s a very difficult life, and it impacts their brain development.”

TRAC, Reedy said, works with those young men and women as they are leaving the foster care system, a “one-stop shop” for the services they need to adjust: drop-in centers that provide crisis intervention counseling and a safe place for them to stay during the day, life coaching, after-care case management, job training, help finding work, and help finding somewhere to live.

Reedy said that TRAC officials “guesstimate” that about 30 to 33 percent of the young people participating in TRAC are LGBT, although “it’s hard to track that. You do the intake when you first meet them, and there’s no rapport there yet. And they’ve been conditioned not to tell anyone [that they are LGBT]. Really, it’s not important to us except that it’s important for us to know how to best serve these people and the safest place for them to be.”

But, Reedy added, those who are LGBT “do sometimes have a harder time of it, especially when it comes to work. We like to think discrimination doesn’t happen, but it does happen in the workplace. That adds additional barriers, and it impacts their mental health in a different way. They struggle with depression, with self confidence. We try to refer them to support groups with like-minded peer groups.”

James

James Givens is one of the young gay men who has turned to TRAC for help. He was 15 when he and his older brother first entered the foster care system. He was shifted around to three different foster homes before, at age 18, he opted to shift to the state’s supervised independent living program.

They went in to foster care, he said, because “We called CPS on ourselves. My grandmother and my dad [who lived in Houston] weren’t really able to provide food and other things that we needed. There were a lot of drug influences around us.”

But, said James, who has been openly gay since before he entered the foster care system, the final straw came when their grandmother called police on Marty, the man who had been helping care for him and his brother.

Marty, he explained, was a friend of their grandmother’s who was also openly gay. James was about 12, he said, when Marty started helping care for him and his brother.

The two boys started spending more and more time with Marty, grateful for the stability he offered. “But I guess Grandma got jealous or something; I guess she thought Marty was getting all the attention from us she wanted,” James said. “She’s really not a judgmental woman, but maybe she got the wrong idea.”

She started contacting Marty’s neighbors, telling them he was a pedophile and a sex offender, James said. Ultimately, one day when the boys were at Marty’s house, she called police, and showed up outside the house herself, yelling at Marty to “give me my grandkids back,” and asking him, “Why are you taking their affection away from me?” James said.

Because of that, he said, “We got pissed off.” James said that their plan when they called CPS was that the state would take them away from their grandmother and father, and then their grandmother and father would agree to let Marty adopt them. The state, though, refused.

“The state wouldn’t let him adopt us because he was gay,” James said. “That’s the whole reason we went into foster care, so he could adopt us, but a white gay guy adopting two black kids — the state wouldn’t let that happen.”

James and his brother, who are black, were fostered first with a white family in Houston. James said that although his brother was treated well there, he and his first foster mother clashed from the start.

“She didn’t like that I was gay,” he explained. “She told me I had a demon in me; she said some really hateful things. I was like, OK crazy Christian lady. Whatever. I guess you could say we got off to a bad start.”

James and his brother were both kicked out, though, after the foster parents discovered that his brother and their daughter had begun a relationship. “I guess that was too much for them,” he said.

Their second foster home was headed up by a Nigerian woman who at first “treated us like humans, not just a paycheck. She told me that she didn’t care about my sexuality. She said, ‘As long as you’re going to school and working to better yourself, I don’t care.’ We got off to a good start.

“But the longer you live with someone, the more you start to see their true colors,” James continued. “I know I wasn’t some perfect angel; I was certainly the more emotional one between me and my brother. I guess there was something in my character; she just didn’t like the person I was.”

One night James, 16 at the time, came home about 30 minutes late after being out with friends. That led to an argument, in which the woman called him “a bitch” and James “cussed her out.” After six months, James and his brother were on their way to a new home, this time in Dallas.

James’ brother aged out of foster care and chose to move back to Houston to live with Marty. James said his own immaturity, led to an argument with his foster mother, later, and at 18, although he could have stayed there until he was 21, James chose to move into the supervised independent living dorm, then later into his own apartment with partially subsidized rent.

He wanted to move back to Houston with Marty, he said, but by that time Marty had hit on some financial hard times and was unable to help. James said his own immaturity led to him “messing up” his chance with the SIL program. He headed to Houston and was staying with his brother, who lived with his girlfriend and her mother. But that didn’t last either, and James found himself living with a friend and her mother in a car. Thankfully, he had stayed in contact with his CPS caseworker, and that’s who connected him with TRAC.

“Before, I took all my anger out on the world. I felt like my family didn’t care; my father didn’t care enough to change. And I don’t even know my mother [who lives in Detroit]; when we first went into foster care, the caseworker contacted people on that side of the family, but they wouldn’t take us,” James said.

“In foster care, you can feel neglected. I felt like my family didn’t care, either,” he said. Finding TRAC was like starting over. I was living in a car and hadn’t bathed in two weeks, and then I had a chance to start over. I was like that 15-year-old kid again, only this time, I was more adult. I needed to get my life together.”

Today, James has his own apartment and a job in a restaurant. He’s looking for a second job and intends to start school at Mountain View College in the fall. He said he wants to get his degree and become a social worker so that he can one day work to make the foster care system better.

And someday, he added, he hopes to find a partner and create a home for children — his own and foster children.

“I don’t want my kids to ever feel there’s not someone there for them,” he said. “I don’t want them to be scared to talk to me about anything. I want to be a really good father for them; I want to be the father my father wasn’t. TRAC is giving me the chance to do that, to have that.”                 

Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson is coming to Dallas Saturday, Sept. 9, to perform in A Night to Remember 2017, the annual fundraising gala benefitting CitySquare. The concert takes place at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
For details and tickets, visit CitySquare.org. Tickets start at $50.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.

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Don’t tell me how to grieve

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 7:00am

The loss of a spouse can be an unfortunate  part of family life and one that we’re not prepared for
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DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

art of family life is dealing with the death of a loved one.

I’ve lost my parents, lost a very close grandfather and lost numerous friends to AIDS, but none of that prepared me for losing my husband. On March 6, Brian was fine when I left for work. When I got home, he was unconscious. By 9 p.m., he was dead.

Brian and I were married just nine months and had been together seven years. I’ve had other partners, but I finally met the person I was going to grow old with. Nothing prepared me for losing him. It’s emotionally devastating. That I knew. But its also exhausting and expensive.

Counselor Candy Marcum said the big losses in most people’s lives are “the loss of a mother and a lover.

“They have the same depth of connection so the same depth of loss and grief,” she said.

Marcum called grief healthy and encouraged anyone grieving to experience their emotions.

“Your emotions are right on target,” she said. “It’s the healing.”

She said grief doesn’t have to be over a death but may be about a break up or a job. Whatever the reason for the grieving, don’t hide it.

Over the past few months, I’ve learned a lot about grieving, and some of it surprised me. I’d heard of the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — but I haven’t experienced them all, at least not in any traditional way.

After a bad day, I expected to go home and miss having someone to share it with. Someone to give me a hug. But here’s what I didn’t expect:

Dealing with happy events

Bad days just blended into my grief, but happy days? It was the good days I was  having trouble handling.

Earlier this year, I was nominated for two writing awards. For a few days, I didn’t tell anyone, because I couldn’t tell Brian. He would have been more excited than I was. I just didn’t know what to do with the information.

While figuring it out, I looked up the awards to find out when the winner would be announced. I’m not sure if everyone in my office heard me begin to cry when I read the date: Our anniversary.

That upset me more than anything. Would it be a real win if Brian, somehow, fixed the results as my anniversary present?

So, not wanting to sound like a crazy person, I kept that to myself. Of course, when I did win, and anyone said congratulations, instead of saying thank you, I explained about the results and how Brian interfered with the selection process. Yeah, that was healthy.

Expensive

Losing a spouse is costly.

The day Brian died, I had just paid bills and noticed how we were ahead of schedule catching up on several things — like a vacation we were going to take in three weeks.

Then I got home and suddenly I faced $10,000 in expenses I hadn’t expected that morning.

While losing a spouse is very expensive, what I learned over the next month was those expenses were just going to continue to mount.

First were funeral bills. Then came a bill from the city for an ambulance. Then from the hospital where we transported him. 

But then came the everyday living expenses. We used to split the rent. Now I pay it myself along with an increase I got when I renewed my lease. And the increase was twice what it’s been in the past, because Oak Lawn rents are skyrocketing.

I began shopping for one person instead of two. That doesn’t mean half the cost. For example a half gallon of milk doesn’t cost half what the gallon we used to buy cost. Utilities have gone down, but not by half. I’m noticing the bill is only about $10 less than before. Gas? It takes the same amount of gas to get one of me somewhere as it did for two of us to get there.

Exhaustion

Losing a spouse is exhausting, because there seems to be twice as much to do. I no longer share the chores. The sheets need to be changed once a week whether Brian’s sleeping in the bed or not. It takes me twice as long to put sheets on our king size bed as it did when two of us did it, and now I have to launder the sheets every week instead of relying on him to wash them some weeks. I do all the vacuuming now, and the floor is the same size even if only half the number of people are walking on it.

I don’t buy as much food, but I have to shop for it every time. I have to go to the mailbox every day instead of half the time and clean the litter box all the time instead of never. In other words, everything  that we shared doing or he did, I now do myself and twice as often as I did before.

Those five stages of grief

Marcum said not everyone goes through all of the stages of grief and certainly not in order. One day a person grieving might accept the loss and the next day be depressed again.

I was glad to hear I’m not doing it wrong and didn’t necessarily have to go through every stage.

For example: Denial. Brian died in my arms. There was no denial.

Well, maybe a little. When I called 911 and no one picked up, I kept doing chest compressions for 20 minutes until they answered and the ambulance arrived. If I kept trying to revive him, maybe he’d start breathing again. Maybe that was denial, or maybe I just didn’t understand that even if I had revived him, without equipment the paramedics would have, I wouldn’t have kept him alive.

Anger. I’m not angry at Brian for dying and leaving. I’m a little annoyed he fixed the writing competition from up there. I might have won it on my own. And I’m furious at the city for allowing the 911 system to deteriorate to the point people were dying when they didn’t respond.

Marcum explained that bargaining is often associated with someone dealing with a long-term illness. “If I go to church more often, will you let him live longer,” she said.

I didn’t do that type of bargaining. I did do this type. When I got a bill from the city for $1,650 to drive Brian’s body across the street to Parkland Hospital, I returned it with a note: “I’ll pay your damn bill when you settle my lawsuit.” But that probably isn’t what she meant by bargaining.

Depression. No, not really. Sadness? Yes. Burst into tears at each of the three weddings I’ve attended in the last month? Couldn’t help it. Joy at the happiness of those couples at the same time? Wanting them to be happy as I was? Really wanted to attend? Yes, yes and yes. That’s not depression, but Marcum indicated it comes under that category.

Acceptance. Haven’t gotten there yet, but learning to adjust. For three months, just going to the mailbox upset me. It doesn’t anymore.

Some advice

I’ve learned a lot of things about grieving since Brian died. The people you hoped would be the most help weren’t, and the people you never expected to help did. Like when I took that trip Brian and I planned just a few weeks after he died and Chad in my office arranged a petsitter for me. Or one day I took off and my friend Barbara and I went for a walk through the Arboretum.

Friends help. Brian’s friends help more. My friends are trying to make me feel better. His friends are grieving him with me.

Brian’s friend Jeremy lost his partner in a fire about seven years ago. He understands my loss. Ray lost his husband a few weeks before I lost mine. We keep a message box open on Facebook, and when something pisses one of us off, we let the other know.

I’ve been lucky to have the support of my family and his. My cousins who came to my wedding last June flew to Dallas to spend my anniversary with me.

I took his mother to a Turtle Creek Chorale concert. We had been married on stage at a chorale concert the year before and members of the chorale came to sing at his funeral. They have a devoted follower in Brian’s mom.

His father lives in Austin, and I recently spent a night there with him. His brother and sister, his uncle, an aunt, her son and his partner all reached out to me to make sure I was OK. That made a huge difference and is something I had that others often don’t.

How to help someone grieving

Comments like, “You look like you lost weight,” don’t help. Most people lose weight immediately after a death in the family. Don’t comment on how someone looks. My response, “And you look fat,” didn’t help, but indicated how much the original comment just hurt.

Not everyone feels like going out to eat after losing a spouse. If the grieving person declines your invitation, accept it. Don’t push. Don’t insist. Don’t put more pressure on that person. Is your offer more about you than the person who’s grieving?

“Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” is a much more appropriate offer, but don’t be surprised if the thing you can help with is cleaning the litter box and not going out to dinner.             

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.

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Rainbow Roundup offers resources and activities for LGBT families

Posted on 28 Jul 2017 at 6:45am

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DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When she founded Rainbow Roundup, the last person Kimberly Kantor expected to meet was the woman who became her wife.

Kantor said she just didn’t see many resources out there for LGBT families and she wanted her children to meet other families that looked like hers. So she started a closed Facebook group in 2012 that quickly grew to 100 members. Then 300. And 500. Before she knew it, more than 1,000 people in North Texas had joined.

By 2015, the group was more than a Facebook page, but a full-fledged non-profit organization with resources for LGBT families and events where they could connect.

Among the group’s resources are names of doctors, lawyers, daycares and other professionals who welcome LGBT families in their practices. When Kantor moved to Plano, she said she knew three other families with children in the public school where her children would attend.

The group’s first camping trip attracted 100 people in 2016. In May this year, the size doubled. At the campout, different people spoke about the impact Rainbow Roundup has had on their lives. One young boy told the group that he used to think there weren’t any other families like his.

Kantor said thanks to sponsors, they were able to keep costs down for families. She said that she used to be a single mom and understands how controlling costs is important to a family. Because of those sponsors, they had hayrides, a barbecue, face painting, arts and crafts and other activities at no additional cost to each family.

She said having been named a Black Tie Dinner beneficiary this year will help the group provide even more activities to families that might not have been able to participate in some of the group’s events.

Kantor said exchanging information is one of the most important things the group does. Discussion groups on creating families include information on surrogacy, adoption and fertility specialists.

The group is open to more than just LGBT parents with kids. Some of the parents are opposite-sex couples who have LGBT children.

But has the group found there are better places in North Texas to live or areas to avoid?

“We’re everywhere,” Kantor said. “LGBT families are living and thriving everywhere across North Texas.”

Rainbow Roundup has been getting more and more recognition around the area. In addition to becoming a Black Tie beneficiary, Kantor received the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce service award.

The group also had a table at last week’s LGBT Wedding Party and Expo. While most of the vendors were offering services for the wedding or locations for the honeymoon, Rainbow Roundup was there offering resources couples might need years into the future  as they plan their families.                                              

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.

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Justice Department argues sexual orientation not protected class

Posted on 27 Jul 2017 at 3:58pm
trump flash

Trump promised to be the best president for the gays

The Trump administration filed an amicus brief in an employment nondiscrimination case that says sexual orientation is not covered by Title VII that bars discrimination based on sex.

The case in the 2nd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York involves a man who was fired because he is gay. The plaintiff claims he should be covered by the Civil Rights Act Title VII which covered discrimination based on sex. The Obama administration’s position was that sexual orientation is included in that category.

The Trump administration is arguing since Congress hasn’t specifically included sexual orientation into the law, the courts can’t do that on their own.

The law was enacted because woman are often treated differently than men in employment. Prior to this law, classified ads routinely listed jobs under headings of jobs for men and jobs for women.

Those arguing that sexual orientation should be included in sex discrimination say that gay men are treated differently than straight men and lesbians differently than straight women.

In the case Zarda v. Altitude Express, Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, was fired when the new owners of Altitude Express learned he was gay. Zarda later died in an unrelated skydiving accident but his executors pursued the case.

The U.S. district judge said Zarda could file a complaint under state law, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in New York. The appeals court agreed. Zarda’s estate appealed and the 2nd Circuit is hearing the case en banc. If the estate loses this appeal, they can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether sexual orientation is covered by Title VII.

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