The Orlando Sentinel reports today (Tuesday, April 25) that Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse Nightclub, will announce a process for planning a permanent memorial at the club’s location on May 4. The club, at 1912 S. Orange Ave. in Orlando, has been closed since June 12, 2016, when a lone gunman murdered 49 people and injured more than 50 others in the worst mass shooting incident in modern U.S. history.
The Sentinel says that the process “is expected to include community input and, perhaps, a town hall meeting.”
The newspaper also notes that the city has announced plans for Orlando United day, a day of public events to commemorate the massacre, and that Poma has said the anniversary will include two events at the Pulse property — a midday ceremony with community speakers and a second gathering from 10 p.m.-midnight. A resolution has been introduced in the Florida Legislature designating June 12 as Pulse Remembrance Day in the state.
“The resolution, as sponsored by state Reps. John Cortes, D-Kissimmee, and Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, specifically recognizes that gay nightclubs like Pulse ‘carry historical significance and are often recognized as safe havens for the LGBTQ+ community,’ and that the Pulse attack was a hate crime that had disproportionate impact on ‘communities of color,’” the Sentinel reports.
The memorial is a project of OnePULSE Foundation, which Poma established and of which she serves as executive director and CEO. The foundation as been raising money to support construction and maintenance of a memorial, provide community grants to care for the survivors and victims’ families, endow scholarships in memory of each of the 49 victims and, ultimately, create a museum featuring artifacts and stories from the shooting.
Poma said she will introduce the foundation’s board members and the memorial task force project members on May 4.
Poma has said she created Pulse nightclub 12 years ago in memory of her brother John, who died of HIV/AIDS. She told the Sentinel, “Pulse has always been a part of me, but after this tragedy which took 49 lives, it became a part of this community and the world. It’s important that we as a community be mindful and take great care to preserve, honor and help heal.”
The first few minutes of our April 21 show didn’t record, so we — me, Brad Pritchett, Brandi Amara Skyy and Israel Luna — pick up talking about former Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, whose removal from the bench last year was upheld last week by a specially-appointed court of retired justices.
Check it out, and remember to watch us live each Friday at 4 p.m. on the Spayse Station YouTube channel. This next Friday, April 28, we start our new Pet of the Month video, featuring adoptable pets from the SPCA of Texas.
Do you have an idea for a DVtv video? Is there a topic you think we should discuss? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org (put DVtv in the subject line).
Survivor hopefully holds a lesson for Texas legislators
My heart broke recently when Jeff Varner, a gay man, outed Zeke Smith as a transgender man on Survivor. As has been often stated, outing a trans person is an act of violence. Doing so can put our jobs and even our lives in jeopardy. It’s the ultimate betrayal and unless you are the transgender person in question, that information is not yours to share.
Varner of all people should have known better. And apparently he did, since he quickly recognized that he screwed up. He has apologized and has been gracefully forgiven by Zeke.
But this column isn’t about that; there is so much to think about.
When Zeke was outed during the TV show’s Tribal Council, it created one of the more awkward moments on television in recent memory. There was just silence, then the remaining contestants turned on Varner, scolding him for outing Zeke and saying it was Zeke’s story to tell.
Varner was then voted off.
Here’s the bright spot in this latest attack on trans identities: Zeke is well liked by the other competitors on the show. Not “even though he is trans.” He is well liked as Zeke, as a guy!
I’m fond of hugging people I meet for the first time. I also remind people that it’s hard to hate someone you’ve held in your arms. Or as Dr. Oz put it, “It’s hard to hate up close.”
I’ve been out speaking to several groups lately. I usually ask how many in the room have met or personally know someone who is transgender. The numbers vary, and often it’s skewed by age: 20-somethings are much more likely to know a trans person than are Boomers. But still, the percentage is low. We are still a mystery to many.
That’s why this incident on Survivor is so important.
It wasn’t just that the other people in the game grew to like Zeke. It was that millions of viewers of the show did, too. This wasn’t Zeke’s first season on the show. He was invited back because he was a good player, he was likable and he was interesting — as a person, not a controversy.
‘This is also why, regardless of the risk to my safety or health, I live my life as a transgender woman in a very public way. But I still reserve the right to tell my own story when and where I see fit. Sometimes I just want to be another woman in the room.
Having people get to know and hopefully like me is important, because that changes people’s hearts and minds. Everyone who meets me or hears me speak can no longer say they’ve never met someone who’s transgender before.
Now, because of Zeke, millions of Survivor fans will have to toss out ideas they have had.
This makes it harder for politicians in Austin and Washington, D.C. to lie about us and have those lies believed.
I really hope there are some Survivor fans in Austin, because the House has cooked up a North Carolina-style bill that would prevent cities like Dallas from offering equal protection to transgender people as they do now.
On Wednesday, April 19, the House State Affairs Committee held a public hearing on the committee substitute for HB 2889, a bill hailed as a replacement to SB 6. HB 2899 amended by the author to be CSHB 2899, and would ban municipalities and school districts from enforcing ordinances, orders, or other measures that protect transgender Texans from discrimination when using restrooms or changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
If the people who author these bills would only take the time to meet and get to know us — or even just look at the example of Survivor. The other tribe members turned on Varner — not Zeke. Comments from the general public have been positive and supportive towards Zeke.
Once people understand the issue, once people get to know us, the light goes on. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but please — please! — don’t deny me basic human rights or put me in harms way because of who I am, because of something I can’t help and didn’t ask for but is surely as much a part of me as your gender is to you.
“Reality” shows take a rap for often being far from real reality. But this past week, Survivor offered a dose of truth and a positive example of how people will defend a friend, a tribe mate, because of who they are — not what’s between his legs.
How nice it would be to have our state leaders take a page from Survivor. The lesson? Be nice, or we may just vote you off the island.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 21, 2017.
Meet Bart, a 3-year-old, black-and-white collie mix weighing 60 pounds. He’s a staff and volunteer favorite who had a bit of a rough past but is being been spoiled here. He rides great in the car, and as long as you take him outside regularly, he does all his business outside. He gets along with most other dogs, but he might need to be supervised while playing with them because sometimes he gets a little too energetic. If you already have dogs, please bring them to meet him to see if they get along well. He mainly just wants to be near his human or at least be able to see you when he’s lounging on his dog bed. He loves to cuddle with people, and he walks well on a leash. Sometimes loud noises scare him, but he knows you’ll stay right next to him if he hears any of those while you are
on your walks. Bart has been neutered, microchipped and has received all age-appropriate vaccinations. #135109
Bart is waiting for you at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in Dallas, 2400 Lone Star Drive near I-30 and Hampton Road. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Sunday -Wednesday and noon-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 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 6 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 April 21, 2017.
Have an event coming up? Email your information to Managing Editor Tammye Nash at email@example.com or Senior Staff Writer David Taffet at firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday at 5 p.m. for that week’s issue.
• Weekly: Lambda Weeklyevery Sunday at 1 p.m. on 89.3 KNON-FM. This week’s guests are TreShaun Pate, Trenton Johnson and Jade Lenore from the Black Trans Advocacy Conference; 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.
APRIL • April 21: Federal Club mixer
The DFW Federal Club holds its April Mixer from 6-8 p.m. at Cedar Grove, 4123 Cedar Springs Road. Visit DFWFederalClub.org or email email@example.com for information.
• April 21: Compassion Fatigue Symposium
Ed-U-Care presents its sixth annual symposium from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at
Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, 9200 Inwood Road.EdUCareDallas.com.
• April 22: Metroball Day at the Casino
Metroball Winstar Casino Party Bus and fundraiser for Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund leaves at 8:30 a.m. from
Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St. and from Collin Creek Mall in Plano at 9 a.m.
$75. $125 per couple. GDMAF.org
• April 22: Turtle Creek cleanup
Turtle Creek Association needs volunteers to help keep Turtle Creek beautiful and litter-free. Trash bags and pickers provided. Wear no-slip shoes and gloves. Meet at 9 a.m. on Hall Street at the Katy Trail. Clarke@TurtleCreekAssociation.org.
• April 22: Charity Underwear Auction
Charity America organization hosts a Charity Underwear Auction at BJ’s NXS!, 3215 Fitzhugh Ave., at 9 p.m. The event is hosted by Mr. and Miss Charity America 2017, Preston David Pickett and Jazzmin St. James D’Monaco, and will feature Sable Alexander, Melodee Karrmichael, Onyx Anderson, Gloria Devine, Mona Devine, Bronx Diorr and The Queen G. Event sponsors are Outlines Men’s Wear and Skivvies.
• April 22: Carnival of Health
Students, physicians and health professionals from UT Southwestern Medical Center team up for the 13th annual Carnaval de Salud (Carnival of Health) from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at T.J. Rusk Middle School, 2929 Inwood Road, offering free health care to under-served populations in Dallas. The health fair will feature free health screenings for several common conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Participants can also get free sports physicals and learn about local health resources. There will be interactive booths for children, carnival activities, arts and crafts and prizes.
• April 23: Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)
Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance hosts a community-wide commemoration of
Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Ave. The program will include readings from the children of Holocaust survivors and music for the Temple Emanu-El Choir and the Israeli Scouts. Yom Hashoah commemorates the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and celebrates the lives of those who survived. DallasHolocaustMuseum.org.
• April 23: Free men’s grooming event
Free beard trim, hot towel treatment, facial, hair touch up, raffles, free samples and more from 2:30-7 p.m. Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.
• April 23: Pre-needs planning
Funeral planning for the LGBT community from Lincoln Funeral Home. Brunch included from 1-3 p.m. at El Fenix,
6811 W. Northwest Highway. To reserve a seat, contact Scottlynd Colgrove at 214-398-8133 or scolgrove@lincemetery.
• April 24: HRC Mondays
Chino Chinatown in Trinity Groves, on Singleton Avenue in Dallas hosts HRC Mondays, partnering with Equality Vodka to offer specialty cocktails and $5 Equality Vodka drinks, with 20 percent of all Equality Vodka sales going to the
Human Rights Campaign.
• April 24-30: National Black Trans Advocacy Conference
The National Black Trans Advocacy Conference and Awards Gala is an educational and empowerment event, attended by 300 trans and gender non-conforming individuals, family, friends, allies and corporate partners from across the country. Marriott Quorum, 14901 Dallas Pkwy, Addison. BlackTrans.org.
• April 25: Spring Fling mixer
Meet the Oak Lawn Library staff and Oak Lawn Library Friends who discuss upcoming programs. Free appetizers and drink specials. 5:30-7 p.m. at Zephyr, 4001 Cedar Springs Road.
• April 26: LGBT Youth Homelessness Awareness Day
Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a proclamation to bring awareness to the issue.
• April 27-May 1: Purple Party Weekend 2017
Dallas Purple Party 2017, presented by Purple Foundation, begins Thursday with Bear Party, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Dallas Eagle, continues with Pump! the Welcome Mixer on Friday from 4-8 p.m. at Aloft Hotel, then the Ignite Opening Party from
9 a.m.-4 p.m. at S4, continues Saturday with the Rise Pool Party from 1-7 p.m. at Sisu Uptown and the Purple Party Main Event from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. at South Side Music Hall, followed by the Refresh Sunday Brunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Aloft Hotel and Revival Tea Dance from 1-7 p.m. at The Nines, and concludes with Glow Closing Party from 9 p.m.-4 a.m. at the Hall of State at Fair Park. For information and tickets visit PurpleFoundation.org.
• April 28: Celebration of Excellence Dinner
The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce presents its Business Excellence Awards at its Celebration of Excellence Dinner. Renaissance Dallas Hotel, 2222 N. Stemmons Freeway. GLBTChamber.org.
• April 28: Women’s Business Conference
The Dallas Regional Chamber hosts the 21st annual Women’s Business Conference with keynote speaker Judy Smith at 8 a.m. at Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd. $99 members, $250 nonmembers. DallasChamber.org.
• April 29: An April Arts Salon
April is Arts Month in Dallas. The Turtle Creek Chorale and Bruce Wood Dance Project present An April Arts Salon with The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, Uptown Players, the Cathedral of Hope Choir, and others at 7:30 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. $25. AnAprilArtsSalon.Eventbrite.com.
• April 29: Operation Kindness Health Clinic
Operation Kindness no-kill animal shelter partners with Pets for Life and the city of Carrollton to host a pet health clinic, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Crosby Recreation Center, 1610 Crosby Road in Carrollton, offering microchipping and city licenses to low-income pet owners, along with spay and neuter humane education. For information call 972-247-1369.
• April 30: Operation Kindness Hope Gala
Dinner and entertainment by Ricki Derek and his six-piece band from 7-10 p.m. at Sambuca, 2120 McKinney Ave. OperationKindness.org.
• April 30: Miss Big Thickette
Nelda Pickens hosts as members of the Turtle Creek Chorale dust off their wigs and paint their faces to compete for the coveted title of Miss Big Thickett from 7-10 p.m. at the Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. Benefits Prism Health North Texas, formerly AIDS Arms. TurtleCreekChorale.com.
MAY • May 4: Outrageous Oral
Mica England talks about her lawsuit against the Dallas Police Department at 7 p.m. at The Rose Room at S4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. TheDallasWay.org.
Onyx will be one of the special guests performing at the Charity Underwear Auction at BJ’s NXS! Saturday, April 22. The event is hosted by Mr. and Miss Charity American 2017, Preston David Pickett and Jazzmin St. James D’Monaco. See listings for details.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 21, 2017.
I used to hate it when my mom would tell me to seek the silver lining — how losing one thing somehow gave me the chance to get something new; how not getting a job or a part in a play or a place at a university gave me the chance to get another job or another part or go to another school. It used to drive me nuts, partially because she was right. It wasn’t a matter of needing the bad in order to get to the good. It wasn’t a matter of being grateful for or appreciating the bad. Instead, it was a matter of mindset. It was a matter of shifting my thinking.
Rather than dwelling on the bad, I found myself seeking out the good.
It’s a lesson that has served me well in many parts of my life, but especially in my relationships. For example, I just got braces. Yup. Forty-six years old and thanks to not wearing my retainer enough, I am sitting in Dr. Rahimi’s chair once a month getting my wires tightened. That’s no fun. But what’s really putting the hurt on me right now is not being able to kiss my fiancé, Robin. She’s none too thrilled, either.
Sure, we can touch lips. But the kind of kissing that most healthy couples not only experience but also thrive on, is not on the menu these days. It’s been bumming me out. A lot. It feels like a piece of us is missing, a connector of sorts, the thing that gets us from A to B. The thing that gets us from “You’ve been on the road for a week” to “Now we’re back home together.” The thing that gets us from “We’re having an argument” to “We’re back on track.” The thing that gets us from “The movie is over” to “Wanna go to bed early?”
So, we had a choice: We could let it kill us or we could let it inspire us. And you better believe that we chose the latter.
The crazy part is that, as awful as it is, it is also kind of fun. We hold hands more. We look into each other’s eyes longer. We find new ways to flirt and transition. Most importantly, we adapt. Apart from communication, the ability to adapt has to be one of the most vital couple traits. It’s the difference not only between the couples who live or die, but also the couples who survive versus thrive.
The thing is, it’s not simply a skill. It’s a choice. Robin and I choose to be together each minute of each day through the subtle changes and the not so subtle ones. This gives us an ease to the way we live. We don’t have to worry that something will change in us that will make the other person love us less, other than running over a bag of puppies or stealing from the poor to give to the rich, of course.
It also gives us a strength that can only come from flexibility. Like a massive tree that sways in high winds versus a rigid pole that breaks in two, we choose to ride the waves. That certainly can mean simply tolerating what comes our way. But, when we can, we do our best to embrace the new even when we’re not necessarily thrilled about what caused the change. The best relationships are about conscious choices, about choosing one another, about choosing to be together, about choosing how to love and support and really enjoy each other.
I hate my braces. And I hate that I can’t kiss Robin for real for another four months. But I love that she always asks if I have my wax with me and that she doesn’t mind checking my teeth for that stray sprig of basil. I love that we are finding new ways to flirt and connect at a time when a zillion other things could be capturing our attention. And I love that I know how much she hates my braces and not only still loves me but loves me even more because she knows how crazy they drive me and yet knows how much committing to them is the right thing to do.
My mom was right. It is about silver linings. Life is all about silver livings. And love and relationships are most certainly all about silver linings. I’d love to make a joke here about the silver in my mouth. But my braces, thank goodness are clear. But then so is my love for Robin and my commitment to our being a couple, brackets and all.
Redos of condos pose unique problems, but Grant Woodruff is happy to solve them for you
The process of renovating a kitchen or bathroom can be intimidating. Where to start? What factors do you want to take into consideration? Should you really paint those Shaker cabinets purple?
The struggle gets even more real when you’re taking on a renovation at a condo, high-rise or other multi-family residence — there are usually unforeseen restrictions, extra costs and that grouchy HOA president to deal with.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t get a killer new kitchen or the bathroom of your dreams just because you don’t live in a house. You just have to get off on the right foot and minimalize surprises (and costs). Grant Woodruff, founder and owner of Dallas’ Renowned Renovation, specializes in condo/high-rise redos and suggests a few things to consider for a successful remodel.
Consider your budget. Woodruff suggests first looking online to see what you like and what direction you’d like to go (Houzze.com and Pinterest are great places to start). “You can find all types of looks, and almost have what you want picked out from other people’s stuff,” he says. “Then it comes down to how much you want to spend.” When it comes to the latter, be realistic. “People say, I watch HGTV and they did a whole kitchen for $12,000. That’s not real. That does not exist.”
Find the right contractor. “Renovation is like a puzzle,” Woodruff says. “There
will be a lot of unknown issues, so you need people who can problem solve properly.”
He notes that it’s not that hard to get a contracting license in Dallas, so it’s easy to fall prey to someone who doesn’t really have the chops to deliver. Don’t be afraid to take some pre-emptive steps to make sure your contractor is fully qualified. “Ask them, ‘Do you have reviews online? Can you provide a copy of your certificate of insurance? The names and email address of three references? The size, scope and completion date of three projects?” says Woodruff.
Consider condo conundrums. Units in multi-family buildings are harder to renovate, which leads to extra challenges… and extra costs. Makes sure you work with your contractor to communicate with your HOA and condo board to answer questions and understand regulations. “In a condo, your wires and your plumbing run through a wall you don’t own. You can only work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You may only have water shut off once a month,” Woodruff notes. The right contractor will work with you and your HOA to reduce unforeseen issues.
Think about your market value. Of course you want to update, but make sure you don’t go overboard into a trend that will die out — a dated look will turn off buyers should you decide to sell. “What I tell clients is, unless you don’t care and this the home you’re gonna die in, make sure your home has transitional elements — a little bit of everything that blends really well. You don’t want to date yourself but don’t go so far off the cuff it makes it hard for a buyer,” Woodruff says. “You don’t want people to either love it hate it.”
Be willing to compromise. New shower! Subway tile! Top-end finishes! It’s all so exciting!
It’s easy to get carried away, but know from the start that, between your condo restrictions and your budget, you might have to sacrifice a few things. Woodruff mentions a recent client who required a creative solution. “He wanted a hall bath, steam showers, shower body sprayers.” Re-doing the plumbing was getting more and more complicated and expensive. “In a high rise, everything is integrated,” Woodruff says. “Can this little ol’ water line provide water for all these sprayers you want?” The solution: Woodruff installed water pump in the bathroom. “It saved him $25,000,” he says. “It rattles a bit, but we’ll take that for $25,000.”
— Jonanna Widner
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 21, 2017.
Back in 2007, Gary Evans recalled, he had started feeling very sluggish: “I’d come home and go right to bed.” And at work, he had trouble getting anything accomplished.
When he went to his doctor for his annual check up, he had a test for liver function. The year before, the test showed his liver functioning properly. This time, the test revealed he had NASH — nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — a slow, steady buildup of fat.
Although it’s something that usually develops over years, “In my case it happened within months,” Evans said. With NASH, fat builds up in the liver, making the organ get hard and making it difficult for blood to flow through the organ. The walls of the veins can become weak and break causing blood to empty into the stomach.
In late July, Evans went to the hospital because he was throwing up blood. Doctors inserted a stint into his vein. He recovered and went back to work.
The next spring, Evans started turning orange so he went back to the hospital. Doctors determined he needed an immediate organ transplant or he would die. They sent him to Baylor, where he was rejected for the transplant, because he had an active infection.
During this time, his kidneys failed, which is common with this type of liver disease.
While Baylor wouldn’t do a transplant, the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville in Florida decided they might be able to help after they received a copy of his records. A week later, he took an air ambulance from Love Field to Jacksonville. When he came home, Evans had a new liver.
It took Evans about a year to recover. He didn’t receive a kidney transplant because those organs from the donor weren’t a suitable match. But his own kidneys recovered 25 percent of their function. After a transplant, kidneys may regain 80 to 90 percent in some people. Doctors predicted he would need a kidney transplant within five years.
Nine years later, Evans’ kidneys remain functioning at about 25 percent.
Evans returns to the Mayo Clinic annually for a checkup. He said he’s on some medication that has few side effects. The most common one is causing tremors.
“My hands will shake,” he said. “Most of the time it’s very minor.”
He stays out of the sun, because transplant recipients are very susceptible to skin cancer. He avoids uncooked food and makes sure fruit and vegetables are washed well. He doesn’t work in the garden.
He said the most common cause of liver failure is hepatitis C.
“The old treatment was so bad, some people died from its side effects,” Evans said. But now, there are treatments that are more effective, work much quicker and are much easier to take.
Donate Life Texas is the only official organ and tissue donor registry in Texas. Executive Director Suzy Miller wants the LGBT community to know during April — National Donate Life Month — that unlike blood donations, their organ donations are welcome.
To get word out to the LGBT community, Donate Life Texas plans to exhibit at the Dallas Pride Festival in September.
Blood banks focus on whether the potential donor is gay and reject all blood from someone who has had a same-sex sexual contact. Hospitals doing organ transplants are more concerned with whether the donor was HIV-positive or HIV-negative, regardless of sexual orientation.
But being HIV-positive doesn’t exclude someone from donating organs. People who are HIV-positive may donate and those organs would be used to save the life of someone else who is HIV-positive.
And, Miller said, the need is great: “590 Texans died last year on the transplant waiting list.”
There are three ways someone may leave their organs for transplant — by signing their driver’s license, by signing up on the
Donate Life Texas’ website and by signing a legal document stating one’s wishes to donate.
Miller said any of these is considered a legal document, and “Your family can’t overturn your decision.”
When a terminal patient is in the hospital and death is imminent, the hospital sends the person’s name to its organ procurement organization, an entity independent of the hospital. The hospital and OPO are kept separate to avoid charges of withholding treatment to hurry the death and recover organs.
The OPO’s first step is to find out if the patient has signed up as an organ donor.
So that there’s no confusion, Miller noted, a transgender person who has legally changed their gender designation or their name since signing organ donation documents should sign a new document so that current information matches current status. But she stressed that transgender people are welcome and encouraged to donate organs.
Not everyone who has signed an organ donation document and dies can be used as an organ donor. But no one knows whether a person’s organs can be used until that person has died. Miller said the best candidates are people who are already in the hospital and die of a stroke. In that instance, doctors can continue to keep the heart pumping even after the person is declared brain-dead to keep the blood flowing to the organs, to keep those organs viable for transplant.
Heart attack victims are less likely to be able to donate. Miller said if the heart has stopped for more than four minutes, the organs begin to degrade.
Evans also encouraged people to donate their organs.
“Why take it with you?” he said. “If you die, you can leave a living legacy.”
He said some organ recipients need counseling to overcome the sadness that someone else died in order for them to live. He said he didn’t have that problem, but is grateful his donor has already given him almost an extra decade of life.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 21, 2017.
Mayor Mike Rawlings said he was concerned with LGBT homeless youths. Now he has proven his concern with an enthusiastic interest in earmarking a portion of the money in the next bond election to address the problem of homeless LGBT youths.
As a result of work done by the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force, and a committee that grew out of the work of the task force called OutLast Youth, Rawlings has declared April 26 LGBT Youth Homelessness Awareness Day.
The mayor points out in his proclamation that about 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT. To address this problem, Councilman Adam Medrano called a press conference at Dallas City Hall on April 19, announcing the city’s goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020.
That initiative began about a year-and-a-half ago when Josh Cogan and Pam Gerber met in Medrano’s office to plan how to address the problem. They set up a strategic plan session that brought together 47 faith leaders, elected officials, non-profit organization representatives and representatives of the private sector.
They stressed awareness and teamwork to bring together resources across the city and set goals. Among the accomplishments is the opening of homeless student drop-in centers across the city, providing food, clothing and a place to spend time off the street.
Gerber is optimistic about the ultimate goal of ending youth homelessness. “We’re not only meeting but surpassing our goals,” she said.
She emphasized the importance of the private sector in solving the problem, saying the private sector is an “engaged constituency.” Their support helps make Dallas a safer and more welcoming city and helps provide resources to care for some of our most vulnerable citizens, Gerber said.
Cogan, an ally who is passionate about housing and helping LGBT youth, described himself as a recovering “homophobe in the name of Jesus.” He said he was a “church planter,” working through the Baptist Convention of Texas, and while working as a pastor at a new church in Deep Ellum, he partnered for a program called Bridge Builders with Resource Center’s UBE program.
That night, eight LGBT youths told him their stories — some publicly and some in private — about having been kicked out of their homes by their parents because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I’m here because I grew up in the church and my mom threw me out,” Cogan said he heard repeatedly that night.
He said he just couldn’t sleep, so he researched the problem and realized it’s a national problem not being addressed locally.
One of the programs of OutLast Youth involves working with churches to come to an understanding that “no matter what your theology on homosexuality is, no child should be homeless,” Cogan said. He’s currently talking to Watermark Church in North Dallas, which made a name for itself last year by taking away voting rights from one of its gay members for refusing to participate in the church’s reparative therapy program.
Among OutLast’s partnership organizations is Promise House, which became a Black Tie Dinner beneficiary last year.
At the press conference at Dallas City Hall, Promise House CEO Ashley Lind announced that at the end of March, her organization opened a new house specifically for LGBT young adults who have aged out of the foster system.
Lind said her organization’s participation in this coalition is “a natural fit for us.” Cogan is even using an office at the new LGBT home. Promise House has offices, classes and residential space for more than 100 youths spread over four buildings in Oak Cliff.
Once in the home, the youths’ medical and dental needs are addressed. Counselors work with them, and once settled, they’ll be given vocational guidance to put them on a path toward self-sufficiency. They may live in the new house up to two years.
Darron Moore, who works with LGBT youth at Promise House, said these new residents need employment, and any help from the community is appreciated.
He said getting them in a secure, stable environment is the first step so they can get their critical needs met before starting work on their long-term goals.
Any homeless LGBT youth can be accepted into the program, although Lind said there are a few reasons they might send a youth elsewhere for additional help before bringing them into the program at Promise House. If a youth is suicidal, they’d be directed for intensive help elsewhere, and when youths are on drugs, they get them help and bring them into their program once clean.
Anyone interested in volunteering with Promise House can find out about volunteer opportunities on the agency’s website at PromiseHouse.org. In addition, Moore has a wish list of items needed for the new LGBT house. The list includes bedding and other household items, bus passes, school supplies and other general items and gift cards for everything from fast food, clothing, movies, hair salons or beauty supplies. To contribute, contact Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 21, 2017.