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

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

Letting it REGISTER • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

Gift registries can be intimidating. Dean Driver makes them easy

FASHION. PLATE. | Dean Driver knows how to make a tabletop pop — and how to make it easy on you to choose your gifts. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)


Perhaps the one wedding tradition same-sex couples might waffle on is signing up for that beg-a-thon, the gift registry. Forget whether to do so (you should); the real question is, where can you find that particular china pattern you once saw in a magazine?

The answer to that question is probably Dean Driver. With his new company, Consilium Lifestyle Collections, Driver makes what could be a daunting (even intimidating) task for same-sex couples possibly the easiest  job out of all the wedding planning.

“I don’t know if the average gay couple feels comfortable going into stores,” Driver says. “They may, but many retailers just aren’t reaching out to gay couples.”

Teaming up with Consilium Creative Marketing, Driver created what may be the first by-appointment source of its kind in Dallas to provide a wedding gift registry for same-sex couples. While the services are for everyone, Driver believes that this personal touch can bring comfort to any gay newlyweds hesitant about how to sign up for gifts. It also gives them a home field advantage when looking for fine tabletop products and more.

“The way we do business is changing, and this has afforded me the ability to do in-home consultations and also wedding registries,” Driver says. “I come to the client with samples to get an idea of their lifestyle and suggest products and can see what will work with what’s already in the home.”

The affable Driver knows his stuff. After working with tabletop industries for years in large markets like New York, he has access to many luxury brands and even unique home products. The usual china and crystal items are no problem, but items like linens and household accessories are more easily available through him.

Driver’s first piece of advice on getting started with a registry: Don’t be intimidated.

“I demystify all that for you,” he says. “That’s what I’m here for. I’ll make it easier for you. And people shouldn’t think that everything offered in a registry costs so much. We do have some unique options that are moderately priced.”

Consilium has only been around for a few months, but it has burst out of the gate with a selection of up to 50 brands, some exclusive to them. And with Driver’s knowledge and background, he can pretty much get anybody anything they want.

“I’m a sort of an expert in tabletops, and I have my finger on the pulse of the industry,” he says. “I go to Paris, to Milan and see all the new patterns. And if you saw a plate in a magazine and brought it to me,  I could pinpoint what it is. When I say anything, I mean anything — and you may be only person in the country to have it.”

Something his company can guarantee is the death of that most dreaded wedding tradition: The return. Once items are selected for the registry, gift givers don’t have to worry about buying an item that’s already been purchased. Instead, the company does gift cards only, which are beautifully packaged for the giver to present.

“This prevents exchanges or duplicates,” he says. “Plus, clients may change their minds and gift cards give them an opportunity to get something else. And it’s a little more green without all that wrapping paper and shipping to worry about.”

Driver and company seems to have gotten rid of all the excuses couples can make to partake in registering for gifts. Being that a wedding is a life-changing event, Driver mostly wonders why not go all out?

“Couples shouldn’t shy away from getting nice things,” he says. “This is the one time to get the nice stuff, so why not? Anything you want, I can get.”

The only caveat — Driver encourages people to use the nice stuff everyday.

“Yeah, don’t pack it away in a cabinet like our parents did,” he says.

Of course, if there’s one thing gays know how to do it’s merchandise.

For more information, visit

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

LGBT couples celebrate Valentine’s Day, but are strangers under federal law

A new video from GetEQUAL.


—  David Taffet

Reuters details gap in Federal Benefits for LGBT couples

Reuters has detailed the painful story of how Herb Burtis and John Ferris, although a beautiful love story, continue to be cheated out of the benefits the surviving spouse, Burtis, deserves.

Herb Burtis and John Ferris met while both were undergraduate music students at Michigan State University in 1948. Burtis was 18, and Ferris was a 22-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army. They studied with the same organ teacher and connected initially through their mutual love of music.

Burtis and Ferris committed to one another and ultimately spending 60 years together. They were married in 2004, after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I told him I was only marrying him for his benefits,” Burtis recalls with a laugh. At the time, he was just kidding about the benefits– but it turned out to be no laughing matter.

The article goes into detail about the thousands of dollars we are denied through Social Security, health insurance, income taxes, tax treatment of estates along with denied Medicare benefits. Of course, their story of discrimination is legion in our community. There truly is no excuse except for a desire to continue to deny us our equality.


—  David Taffet

Hawaii State House Approves Landmark Bill to Protect Same-Sex Couples

Today the Hawaii State House passed SB 232 SD1 HD1 by a 31-19 vote.  The bill provides that equal rights and responsibilities of married couples in Hawaii be afforded to thousands of non-married couples in the state – including same-sex couples.

“Today is a great day for the people of Hawaii,” said Alan Spector, co-chair for Equality Hawaii.  “The action taken by the House today sends a strong message that our state recognizes the importance of moving towards equality.  Providing equal rights to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is long overdue and we thank all those who have stood with us to make this day a reality.”

After minor changes were made in the House, the bill now heads to back to the Senate for agreement on the amendments before heading to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.  SB 232 SD1 passed the Hawaii Senate on January 28, by a 19-6 vote.  Except for some technical corrections and implementation amendments, the bill is identical to HB 444, the civil unions bill passed in 2010.  That bill passed the House and Senate with near supermajorities before Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed it.  No override vote was held.

“The Human Rights Campaign congratulates the Hawaii House of Representatives for overwhelmingly supporting the equal dignity and respect of Hawaii’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese.  “No child of a same-sex family should have to grow up with less protections or thinking their family is less legitimate or loving than others.”

The Human Rights Campaign and Equality Hawaii have worked closely together since 2008 to build both public and legislative support for civil unions.  Through this joint effort, tens of thousands of phone calls, emails, postcards and handwritten letters have been sent to legislators urging them to approve this legislation.  More on our work in Hawaii is

When Hawaii’s civil unions law is signed, the state will join thirteen other states plus Washington, D.C. with laws providing an expansive form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples.  Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. provide marriage to same-sex couples under state law.  New York and Maryland recognize out-of-jurisdiction same-sex marriages, but do not provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples in state.  Five other states—California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington —provide same-sex couples with access to almost of all the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.  A new law providing for civil unions in Illinois will take effect on June 1st.

Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, and Wisconsin provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples.  An attorney general opinion and subsequent court ruling in Rhode Island resulted in limited recognition of out-of-jurisdiction marriages of same-sex couples. California recognized marriage for same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality.  Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out-of-jurisdiction same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 as similar to domestic partnerships.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.  For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit:

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

In 6 months, 1,300 same-sex marriages in Argentina

Casa Rosada, or Red House, is the presidential palace where the Argentine marriage law was signed six months ago

In the first six months since the same-sex marriage law was signed, almost 1,300 couples have registered through the registry office. And the wedding rate is rising, according to the Argentine newspaper Clarin.

Clarin reports that on Jan. 15, the Argentina Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (FALGBT) had recorded 1,283 marriages in all provinces, although the distribution is not proportional, since most occur in large urban centers.

Recording the most marriages was the province of Buenos Aires (490) and the city of Buenos Aires (465). Other regions reporting include Santa Fe with 90, Cordova with 85 and Mendoza with 47. They say “sexual diversity in the more conservative provinces takes more time.”

Of the couples married, 70 percent are males who have been together 12-15 years. Possible explanations from FALGBT are because their lives are already consolidated and for health reasons they need to take care of each other. Younger couples prefer to try living together before marriage.

“Today there is no rush, because it is a right and may be exercised at any time,” says the head of FALGBT.

He said the first to marry were militants who brought the issue to the public. But now that the law has been in effect for awhile, many more are taking advantage and the rate of couples marrying is increasing.

Now, after marrying, a growing number of couples are beginning the process of adoption.

How has life changed for those who have married? One married woman says it is symbolic that the state recognizes her relationship and protects her at work and reassures her that if something happens to her, her wife has the tools to protect her. Another says it has to do with dignity, respect and having a sense of equality as well as the civil rights she can access through the law.

—  David Taffet

It’s not too late to be one of the Faces of LIfe

Ryan Baldwin at ilume sends along word that the project benefiting AIDS Arms Inc. is conducting another round of photo shoots today and Saturday at the ilume Gallerie. If you’re interested in being part of the project, stop by the Gallerie or call Ron Radwanski at 214-57-7369. The cost is a $50 donation for individuals or $75 for couples or families.

—  John Wright

New attempt to legalize gay marriage in Chile

Chilean flag

While civil unions in Uruguay and marriage in Argentina were approved by legislatures — and civil unions in Ecuador were approved by voters under a new constitution — the Chilean Supreme Court may approve same-sex marriage in that country.

According to the Santiago newspaper El Mercurio, three couples have filed a lawsuit, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

An attorney for the couples, Jaime Silva, argues that two provisions of the Marriage Act are unconstitutional. The first states that marriage is a solemn contract in which a man and woman come together. The second recognizes that a marriage concluded abroad will be recognized in Chile provided it is between a man and a woman.

Those provisions, Silva argues, violate Article 1 and other provisions in the constitution. Article 1 begins, “Men are born free and equal, in dignity and rights.”

Last summer we reported several South American countries were considering recognizing same-sex relationships.

In Chile, a civil union bill got bogged down in the legislature. Meanwhile, no movement has been reported on the issue in Bolivia, where President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera live together in the presidential palace.

P.S.: That is a Chilean flag. The blue stripe extends to the bottom on the Texas flag.

—  David Taffet

If You Want To Drink At This Gay Couple’s Bar, Do Not Spit In Their Faces

Jason Gascoigne will serve four weeks in jail for spitting in the faces of and screaming slurs at a gay couple, who each received a dose of his saliva on separate occasions. David Remmer and Andrew Riley, who run a pub in Worcestershire, were spat upon at another bar during different encounters with Gascoigne. The first time, Gascoigne spat in Remmer's face after Remmer told him their bar would maintain a lifetime ban on Gascoigne; Gascoigne told a court he only spat in the "general direction" of Remmer. The second time, Riley was again at the second bar, when he confronted Gascoigne, who then proceeded to shout slurs at Riley and hoc a loogie between his eyes. In addition to a brief jail stint, the court banned Gascoigne from both bars for two years.

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