Become a part of the Gender Book

The Gender BookThe Gender Book is an effort to try to bring together, in one resource, a discussion of the wide array of gender expressions and identities that fall under the transgender umbrella. It’s creators are holding a brainstorming session next Thursday evening, December 8, to get public input and allow the community at large to become a part of the project.

“We sort of just made the Gender Book out of a need that we felt,” says Mel Reiff Hill, one of the collaborators on the project, along with Boston Bostian and Jay Mays. Hill says that the creators of the Gender Book searched for resources to help them talk about gender, but were unable to find anything that met their needs. “I had a boyfriend who had to pay a therapist to attend training on gender so that he could get the care he needed,” says Hill “the resources just weren’t out there.”

“At the time we were all living in the same house and we had a writer and an artist and a fundraising person and an enteprenuer. All of us were under the transgender umbrella in one way or another and all of us had friends and lovers who are as well,” and thus the Gender Book was born.

Hill describes the brainstorming session as “an interactive community party.” “We’re the first to admit that we can’t represent everyone,” says Hill, recognizing the limitations of any author writing on such a diverse topic. “We’ll have surveys for people to fill out and snacks and coloring book versions for people to fill out”

The coloring book pages are the result of Hill’s process in illustrating the book. Hill first draws pages in pencil then outlines the drawings in pen and erases the pencil, finally scanning the drawing and coloring it by computer. “I presented a workshop with some high schoolers and I was showing one of them my binder of papers looking through it one of them saw the original pen drawings,” says Hill. “He was like ‘you should give these to high schoolers, they love coloring it’s very zen-like for them.’” Hill says that the coloring pages have proved a hit at subsequent workshops and a great way to open up conversations about gender.

The brainstorming session, coloring pages included, is next Thursday, December 8, at the Lawndale Art Center (4912 Main). Attendees are asked to RSVP through Facebook.

More information on the Gender Book is available through their website, TheGenderBook.com.

—  admin

Perfect match

Bob Nunn and Tom Harrover have been a couple for 4 decades. But it wasn’t until a near tragedy that they realized they were truly meant for each other

LIFE GOES ON | Nunn, right, and Harrover stand before a project commissioned for the convention center hotel. Four years ago, Nunn was near death because of kidney disease. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Bob Nunn agrees with the adage that the longer a couple lives together, the more they begin to look alike. Nunn and his partner Tom Harrover might not look that similar on the outside, but they match in a way that few couples do.

Let’s start with some history.

The two have that classic meet-cute that began on the wrong note. As Nunn tells it, Harrover was the dullest person he’d ever met —the two just didn’t like each other. Then, following a spontaneous invitation to a midnight movie, they ended up hitting it off. That movie led to conversation and then dating.

Forty-two years later, they still watch movies — as Nunn puts it, “I couldn’t get rid of him.”

A job in Houston took Nunn away from Harrover for three months, but old-fashioned letter writing kept the newbie relationship afloat.

“Tom had been writing me letters. He’s a very good writer,” Bob boasts. “He basically proposed to me by letter.”

They committed to each other, moving in and pursuing their careers: Harrover in architecture and Nunn teaching art. For 37 years, they lived in “a fabulous house” in Hollywood Heights. Life was good.

Then their life took a sharp turn.

“When we got together, Tom knew I had a kidney disease,” Nunn says. “Nothing was really a problem until about 30 years after we met — my kidneys began to fail and I had to start dialysis.”

Nunn registered with Baylor for the national organ donor list, but the experience was frustrating:  They received little response or encouragement from the hospital.

“Bob was on a downhill slide and the frustration with Baylor seemed like they were stonewalling us,” Harrover says. “We talked about going to Asia even. It felt like they didn’t want to deal with a senior-age gay couple.”

A LITTLE DAB’LL DO YOU | Bob Nunn is officially retired from teaching art, but continues to paint.

Then Harrover suggested something novel: He could donate his kidney to the organ list, with the idea that Nunn could get a healthy one.  Sort of a kidney exchange.

In desperation, they went back to their physician, who enrolled them in St. Paul Hospital’s then-new program for kidney transplant. The experience was a complete turnaround. Nunn was tested and processed immediately while Harrover prepped for his organ donation to an anonymous recipient.

Kidney transplants require a seven-point match system; a minimum of three matches is necessary for the recipient to be able to accept the organ into the body.

The tests revealed that Harrover’s kidney matched Nunn’s on all seven points.

“We assumed I would donate mine for use elsewhere,” Harrover says. “It never occurred to me that we’d be a match. The odds for that are off the charts.”

“See what happens when you live together for so long?” he chuckles.

Just six months after entering St. Paul’s program in 2007, they were on the operating table. They were the first direct living donor pair in the program. “It was all fairly miraculous,” Nunn understates.

Four years later, both men are doing well. Although officially retired, they both continue to work: Harrover does the occasional contract job while Nunn is currently on commission for an art project at the new convention center hotel. Outside of any official work, each interjects their quips about home, life be it cooking together or working on the lawn.

The obvious question for them might be “What’s the secret?” But they don’t see it just that way. Their relationship boils down to the obvious virtues of trust, respect and compromise.

“Selfishness doesn’t rear its ugly head in this relationship,” Harrover says. “You just have to be willing to accommodate, support and encourage what the other is interested in.”

Nunn agrees. “I would not be doing what I’m doing without his support.”

Nunn says if there is a secret, it’s akin to the dynamic on a playground: Like each other and share. If you don’t share your whole life, there isn’t a relationship, he says. At this point, Harrover says it would be impossible to separate. On paper, they are so intertwined with their house and financials, he jokes they are “Siamese twins.”

They’ve witnessed a lot in their decades together, including something they never expected to come to pass in their lifetimes: Same-sex marriage. Coming from a time when just being gay conflicted with moral codes set by their jobs, they wonder over the progress made in recent years. (They were officially married in Boston in October 2009.)

“I’m confident that it will happen for everyone,” Harrover says. “I’m sorry that it’s moving at a glacial pace, but it has that same inevitability as a glacier. We’ll get there.”

But nothing compares to the bond Harrover and Nunn already have, a shared intimacy few couples could imagine. Same-sex marriage was merely unlikely; what they have experienced is miraculous.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Gay artist Clint Mordecai holds parting show

We’ve liked Clint Mordecai’s paintings for a long time. Maybe it’s his bold use of color, or his witty visual playfulness or how effortlessly he weaves queer themes into everything from abstracts to portraiture. What we do know for sure is that we’ll miss having him around.

Mordecai is relocating to Boston next week, so his last local exhibit is a sad farewell as much as it is an opportunity to see his work one more time — or even buy it for yourself.

The Perfect Dose is Mordecai’s exhibition of 21 new pieces, which in some ways commemorate his time here in Dallas and his passage from native Texan to transplanted New Englander.

Mordecai will be in attendance at the show on Friday, which takes place at Ro2 Art Downtown. The pieces will be on display — and for sale — through Saturday.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Ro2 Art Downtown, 110 Akard St. in the Kirby Building. July 8, 7–10 p.m., on view July 9. RoArt.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Study says gel with tenofovir may prevent HIV transmission during anal sex

Results of a study released today during the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections being held in Boston indicate that a medicinal gel containing the HIV drug tenofovir could help prevent the transmission of HIV during anal sex.

According to a report posted today on DrugWatch.com, the same gel has been shown in other studies to reduce the rate of HIV transmission during vaginal sex. The risks of HIV transmission during anal sex can be as much as 20 times higher than during vaginal sex.

In the study, participants were given either the tenofovir gel, a placebo gel or a tenofovir tablet to be taken orally. Researchers then took anal tissue from each group and exposed the tissue to HIV. The study indicates that of the three, the tenofovir gel significantly reduced the rate of HIV transmission, and that it provided the most protection after a seven-day course of treatment.

Researchers said they are also “tweaking” the gel’s inactive ingredients to hopefully eliminate some of the side effects — such as severe diarrhea and lower stomach cramps — reported by study participants who used the tenofovir gel.

Reuters reports that a separate, mid-stage study, comparing the oral and gel forms of tenofovir in African and American women, indicates that daily use of tenofovir gel resulted in a more than 100-times higher concentration of active drug in vaginal tissue compared with use of an oral tablet.

—  admin

Lesbian activist protests bank profits

Local activist Dawn Meifert said her group, Dallas Uncut, will protest outside Bank of America at 6300 Mockingbird Lane on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 8:30 a.m.

U.S. Uncut, begun in Jackson, Miss., protests businesses that have paid no income taxes but have reaped large financial gains for executives and stockholders. Their slogan is, “You Caused This Crisis. Now YOU Pay.”

Meifert said she formed the Dallas chapter this week and will be participating in protests against the bank along with groups in more than 30 cities across the country, from Boston and New York to Los Angeles and Honolulu.

Meifert said she expects to be out at the protest location for about two hours, handing out information about how the bank received $45 billion in bailout money while funneling money through accounts in 115 offshore tax havens and offering below rate loans to politicians while refusing to use the bailout money for loans.

For more information, visit USUncut.org.

—  John Wright

HRC to Bring Training Program for Transgender Job Seekers to Boston

Today we are exicted to announce the inaugural event of our Back to Work project in Boston on February 26-27, 2011.  The Back to Work project empowers transgender people who are unemployed or underemployed to find jobs that match their expertise and experience by providing them with essential skills needed to make the most of the job market.  The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC) and MassEquality are cosponsors of the event, which will be hosted by AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.

Allyson Robinson, our associate director of diversity, said the Back to Work seminars address a critical need.  “Because of the widespread prejudice we face, transgender youth and adults experience unemployment at twice the rate of their fellow citizens and one in five have been homeless,” said Robinson.  “Transgender people make great employees, but they need superior, specialized job hunting skills to help overcome the bias against us in hiring.”

Attendance at the Back to Work seminar is free and open to any unemployed or underemployed transgender person.  In addition, the first 30 registrants for the seminar will receive, also free of cost, a suite of individualized, open-ended services after the seminar from a credentialed, experienced career coach to help them navigate their own job search.

“Not only do we need to pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill for employment non-discrimination protections here in Massachusetts, but also we need to get our transgender youth and adults back to work and give them the tools to do so,” said Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

Participants in the two-day seminar will be trained in refining their career focus, preparing a résumé, researching the job market, building a professional network and interviewing techniques.  The Foundation for New Directions (FND), a non-profit, transgender-owned career coaching organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, will provide the training.

Registration for the Back to Work seminar in Boston will take place via the program’s website, www.hrc.org/backtowork.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Boston Archdiocese adopts policy that may end discrimination against kids with gay parents (or not)

Seriously, the Archdiocese of Boston is the last institution that should want attention for how its treating children, given its prominent role in the child rape scandal. But, after a Hingham, Mass. Catholic school wouldn’t admit an 8-year old kid with gay parents, the Catholic leaders in Boston were once again thrust into the spotlight over how they were treating children. A new policy has been announced:

The Archdiocese of Boston, under fire from all sides after a parochial school withdrew an admissions offer to the child of a lesbian couple, yesterday released a new Catholic schools admissions policy that said parochial schools will not “discriminate against or exclude any categories of students.’’

However, the policy, which was distributed to pastors, parishes, and school administrators by e-mail, said school parents “must accept and understand that the teachings of the Catholic Church are an essential and required part of the curriculum.’’

Now, it’s unclear if that new policy would actually block the expulsion of kids with gay parents. And, one wonders if it means that kids would have to listen to their teachers rail against gay marriage and gay parenting.

In fact, it’s possible that the Hingham school could reach the same conclusion even under the new policy:

Because the new policy said admissions decisions should be based in part on “the best interest of the child,’’ it remains uncertain whether the Hingham episode would have occurred had the new policy been in place. The specifics of that case remain unclear because the pastor involved, the Rev. James F. Rafferty, has declined interviews.

“The situation at St. Paul’s in Hingham may have taken a different route, but it might have come to the same conclusion,’’ said the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Boston. “Father Rafferty still today has the authority to make these decisions as the pastor. But the expectations of the diocese and the guidance the diocese gives in those judgment calls is clearer today than it was then.’’

So, there you have it. The Catholic Church claims to be fixing a problem, but not exactly.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Watch: Activists Hold ‘Homophobia Kills’ Die-In at Boston South Station

Southstation

Members of 'Join the Impact' Massachusetts held a die-in on Friday at Boston's South Station.

Said David Mailloux, co-organizer of this event, and co-chair of JTIMA: "There are so many examples of legalized homophobia and transphobia that give people in our country the perception that members of the LGBT community are second or even third-class citizens. Such perception leads to bullying in our schools as well as the suicides of those young men and women who are bullied. Sometimes, the result of this perception is grisly bias-motivated crimes where LGBT people are maimed or killed in unspeakable ways. We recognize that discriminatory laws are the root of the issue, and know that repeal of those laws, or enacting laws that protect the LGBT community, is the only way to change the conversations surrounding LGBT people, and make these crimes against our community stop."

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

New NOM/Iowa For Freedom strategy: Iowa judges wrong b/c of distance from Boston

*NOTE: This is the ad referenced in this post.

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*UPDATE: What scholar Mark McCormick actually said, sans fear noises and editing:

There is no such thing as an ‘activist judge,’ in the sense that I’m aware of — in the sense of a judge who does not believe that he or she is carrying out his or her responsibility — it’s really just common knowledge, I think, among members of the bar and the judiciary that the role of the courts is to interpret and to assure that the statutes and constitution are enforced, and it’s not activist to interpret the Equal Protection Clause of the federal and state constitutions to a situation following precedent.



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*MORE: McCormick calls out the campaign for what it is, while IFF head Bob Vander Plaats refuses to tell the public where the money’s coming from:




Good As You

—  admin

Boston Globe editorial on Mehlman: ‘Now, clean out the closet’

They’re asking him to clean out the closet:

[I]t would be wrong to brush off Mehlman’s appeal for compassion. The coming out process can be complex and painful, especially for those who experience it publicly. To his credit, Mehlman has already begun to throw his weight behind gay causes. This year, he offered fundraising and strategic advice to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage. As a high-profile, openly gay Republican, Mehlman is in a unique position to advance gay rights within his party. He might consider working to overturn some of the anti-gay measures he supported in the past. Then he could more credibly ask for the understanding — and support — he desires.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright