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

‘Daughters of Darkness’ screens at Texas Theatre

What’s a little blood among strangers?

Campy horror with lesbian undertones is a match made in heaven. Or in this case, hell. The 1971 film Daughters of Darkness tells the tale of a young couple crossing paths with a mysterious and somehow ageless Marlene Dietrich wannabe countess and her pouty-lipped secretary. Does the countess find an interest in the new young lady or is it just your imagination? And does anyone notice how she only comes out at night?

DEETS: The Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. 9:45 p.m. $8. TexasTheatre.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Dallas Cocktail Challenge tonight at Round-Up

Mixologists vie for top bartending bragging rights

Tonight,  Palm Springs (yes, the Palm Springs destination spot) is once again hosting its Summer Splash Cocktail Challenge, looking for the best bartender in the country. The winner in Dallas goes on to the desert ogaysis on June 2 to match mixology skills with other finalists from around the country. Our own Arnold Wayne Jones was a judge at last year’s event, pictured above, and he will be back again testing and scoping the talent tonight.

DEETS: Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. 8 p.m. PalmSpringsCocktails.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Amici footnotes: Usually more persuasive if they don’t match brief’s guiding hand

It’s not surprising that the Liberty Counsel, in their DOMA-defending amicus curiae, cite “ex-gay” researcher Joseph Nicolosi as an expert. That was pretty much a given.

What does seeming startlingly silly, even for LC, is that they also cite a book written by Mat Staver — the very same Liberty Counsel president who tops the very same brief!

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Screen Shot 2011-01-27 At 1.45.45 Pm

What next, L.C: Gonna use one noted Dr. Seuss as an unbiased expert in The People vs. Green Eggs, Ham, et. al?




Good As You

—  admin

Voice of Pride winners Mi Diva Loca team with local band helloeARTh for YouTube covers

Mel Arizpe, right, of Mi Diva Loca just posted a video on her Facebook where she and her partner Laura Carrizales (and other half of Loca) teamed up with local band helloeARTh for a cover of Rihanna’s “Only Girl.” The band’s M.O. is to team up with local singers and rappers and perform a cover on video to post to YouTube. That’s the nutshell.

In this video, the sound’s a little rough, but MDL’s voices are a good match with the funksters playing. Initially, I thought it was a one-time thing, but then Arizpe told me they also recorded a video for a cover of Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You.” I thought ‘Oh, shiz,’ and was quick to search for it. It’s not too bad either, although the recording pulls in more of the music than the ladies’ voices. But when they start belting it out, it’s outta control. And by that I mean pretty priceless.

Both videos are below.

—  Rich Lopez

UPDATE: Scissor Sisters AND Semi-Precious Weapons to open for Lady Gaga in March

When I mentioned Semi-Precious Weapons’ solo show coming to Dallas later this month, they were still on the tour calendar of Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour and set to play her follow-up show in March. Clearly, that has changed. Scissors Sisters is in and SPW is out. SS posted the heads-up about joining her on the tour on their site here.

As I’ve said, SPW is better in a smaller venue, but SS could really knock this one out. I think they are much better match and could fill the arena pretty damn well with their own dance pop sound.

Lady Gaga plays American Airlines Center March 14.

UPDATE: Well, OK, then. Clearly a breakdown in communication. And props to commenter Jimmy for staying on top of it. We had initially received word that Scissor Sisters would be the 2011 support for Gaga and that SPW was her 2010 opener (read my comment below). SPW’s rep Lisa Taylor at 42 West reached out to clarify and confirm that SPW is sticking with the Monster Ball tour and thus is on the bill. They are confirming with LiveNation that everyone is on the same page. So it looks like we’re all good now and the best part, audiences get a triple bill out of it.

—  Rich Lopez

NOM’s Hate Tour is No Match for Orlando’s Love

This past Sunday, the National Organization for Marriage made a stop in Orlando, Florida as part of their 2010 Summer Marriage Tour. Now, I’ve lived here in Orlando for almost four years and have learned that, according to voting polls, Orlando is much like the state of Florida in that it swings both left and right equally. It’s no surprise to me that they came all the way down here — but I wondered if they knew what they were in for?

The tour arrived at the First Christian Church in Winter Park, where leaders of NOM preached from the pulpit about ‘saving’ traditional marriage. As I drove up to the church I could see the throngs with their signs, but who were they? As I pulled in closer, and to my delight, it was the gays. Decked out in rainbows and smiles, the Orlando GLBT community came out to rally. There were people from Stand Up Florida, Come Out Orlando, the First Unitarian Church of Orlando and the steering committee members of the Human Rights Campaign, among many others. There was a caravan of supporters who drove from St. Petersburg, FL, about 100 miles from Orlando, who were standing there in support with the rest of the crowd. Young and old, men and women, kids, Christians, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people as well as straight allies were all there. Maybe it was my appreciation for civil action or maybe it was the Florida heat and humidity, but the way their sweat glistened off their bodies with a surrounding haze made them seem like peaceful angelic activists.

After meeting the people in the crowd and thanking them for their courage to be out and proud, I decided that I needed to head into the church and hear what all the fuss was about. I love what I do, but there is always a moment of natural nervousness or a sensation of anxiety when one feels like they’re walking into the lion’s den. I quickly remembered that no matter who people are, or what they stand for, they are still people and I like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

As I walked closer to the entrance the double doors grew larger, my mouth and palms suddenly traded moisture levels and my breathing was heavy. I walked in and felt the burst of cool air and icy stares. A woman had told me that I was not going to be able to stay if I was with the ‘protesters’ outside. I told her I was not, that I just wanted to hear what NOM had to say. They slightly moaned but let me be. I walked to the front desk to do some reconnaissance and to act ‘normal’. They had the typical materials: Summer for Marriage 2010 RV Tour t-shirts, Stand for Marriage petition, Bumper stickers and buttons, giveaway tour pens and Frisbees!

Finally, I could see a clear line for me to walk down into the room and sit in a pew. I sat there for a few minutes, waiting for them to begin speaking. Channel Four news was there interviewing who I would assume was one of the speakers. There weren’t very many people inside, about fifteen or so. However my girlfriend, whom I had asked to join me at the event, was still outside. When I went back up to the front door to invite her in a woman wearing a “Concerned Women of America” t-shirt began shouting at me. She must have thought I was part of the rally outside and that I was inviting many others to come in. Before I could explain that I wasn’t with the crowd and that I was just inviting my girlfriend in, they all just shouted “No, no, no. We are deciding that you may not attend our event. This is an event intended only for our supporters. This is private property, and you’re so gay and so what,” erratically pointing at my HRC shirt and insisting that I must leave. She walked past me to the door, opened the door and pointed her finger outside. I said that I only wanted to watch and that I would verify if this is private property or not. They laughed but I walked outside, found a police officer and asked if the church was a private establishment. The police officer as well as the church security confirmed that the church was indeed private.

I was feeling angry and I was feeling hurt. I was disappointed that two groups of people with different points of view could not come together peacefully. But what else could I do in that moment but stay calm and collected, feeling hurt, while the lions roared at the top of their lungs.

However, at the end of the day the love outnumbered the hate. Together the pro-equality rally said a prayer for NOM, and facing the church they sang “Amazing Grace.” United, they stood at 150 people; all in support of love and equality. Perhaps next time NOM will think twice before bringing discrimination into the strong, united, and loving Orlando.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright