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

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

GAIN holding monthly meeting

GAIN, the GLBT aging interest network that is a program of Resource Center Dallas, will meet Thursday, April 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Resource Center, 2701 Reagan.
Educator, public speaker and writer Deneen Robinson, BSW, will present the program on Alzheimer’s and dementia in the aging LGBT community.
Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

Students seeks study participants

Cindy Chwalik, a clinical psychology student at Walden University who is interning with Youth First Texas, is looking for natal females (those who were born biologically female) who were born in the South and came out as lesbians while living in the South to participate in a research project she is conducting. She is particularly looking for women born in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

Participation involves a 60-to-90-minute interview. Chwalik said there is no compensation for participating, but the information will help those who come out in the future.
Contact her via email at cindychwalik @aol.com.

TDWCC to hear from candidates

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County will hold their next general meeting Monday, April 25, at 6:45 p.m. at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. in Frisco, Founders Hall, Shawnee Room F148.

The program will feature a forum of candidates in the upcoming non-partisan municipal elections. Confirmed thus far from Plano are Judy Drotman, campaign manager for City Council Place 3 candidate Andre Davidson; City Council Place 5 candidate Matt Lagos; City Council Place 5 candidate Jim Duggan, and City Council Place 7 candidate Pat Gallagher.

Candidates in the Frisco elections who have confirmed so far are Mayor Maher Maso, City Council Place 5 candidate Bart Crowder, and Frisco ISD candidated Anne McCausland and Dody Brigadier.

—  John Wright

Great Spaces: Conditioner love

Yes, you can have a cold house without the big bills — and that’s not hot air

By David Taffet

Perhaps the one thing we loathe the most besides triple digit temps in summer is that dreaded electric bill. The air conditioner is a must for summer in Texas, but the wallet sure takes a beating. One local expert recommends these simple tips to help you keep your cool and some green.

Todd Ylen of TNS Mechanical in Arlington said that only half the air conditioning complaints his company receives could be traced to the main unit. The first thing he checks is the overall cleanliness of what he calls “the guts.” He recommends a professional cleaning with caustic chemicals.

“It should be done professionally,” he says, “The chemicals won’t hurt the plants but it can melt the rubber off your sneakers.”

During the season, he said, don’t be afraid to wash the unit with a hose, but not a pressure washer. A garden hose will not damage an outdoor air conditioning system. They’re made to withstand gale-force winds.

Keep grass and weeds off outdoor condensers. They clog the system and decrease efficiency.

Next, Ylen said he checks the house.

“How efficient is the ductwork?” he says. “How efficient is your house?”

The outer lining of much of the ductwork installed in the 1980s has deteriorated. Squirrels, raccoons and other animals that get into the attic can cause a tremendous amount of damage to the ducts as well.

Cold air will blow in the attic but never reach the living areas of the house if the ducts are torn or worn. He recommends modern, high-insulated ductwork.

Next, he suggests an energy audit company to check for leaks around doors and windows.

“Seal the house,” he says. It pays off in lower energy bills quickly.

And ventilate, he said. Ylen called the old whirlybirds on most roofs worthless.

He recommends solar-powered, fan-driven ventilators. A year ago, he said, they were $1,800. Today they sell for $400, an amount that will pay for itself in one season. He calls it an upfront investment that continues to pay off by lowering electric bills on air conditioning and never costing a cent to operate.

Filters should be changed monthly. Dirty filters prevent the system from drawing air easily, making it work harder and use more energy.
Programmable thermostats are also useful in keeping the system from cooling the house when not needed.

Ylen calls radiant barriers ineffective with a 50-year payback, but insulation very useful.

“A preventive maintenance program is crucial,” he says. He sums up his energy-saving tips to all homeowners — insulate, ventilate and stop air leaks.

TNS Mechanical services homes throughout Texas and has other tips at AirConditioningRepairArlington.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

Family Leader backs away from ‘Second-Hand’ program; but why did it happen on the firsthand?

The Iowa Family leader is now publicly distancing itself from the “gays are a public health hazard like smoking so they should ‘change’ their lifestyles” programs that its host organization, the Iowa Family Policy Center, proudly hosted. This from Iowa Independent:

A link to a seminar series that presents homosexuality and its “second-hand effects” as a public health threat has been removed from the website of The Family Leader.



Leader Screenshot-300X238Julie Summa, director of marketing and public outreach for The Family Leader, said the seminar series has not been offered for around two years. However, up until Tuesday, a link to the seminar’s website was made available to anyone who signed up for e-mail updates on the group’s 99-county “Capturing Momentum Tour.” The Family Leader’s phone number is listed as contact info for anyone interested in booking the seminar.

When asked by The Iowa Independent why, if the series has not been offered for two years, it continues to be advertised on The Family Leader’s website, Summa said it was a mistake.

“The Second Hand Effects link shouldn’t be on our ‘Capturing Momentum Tour’ web page, which was created from an old template,” she said. “We plan to remove it as you are correct, we do not currently offer the seminar and have not had a full seminar in about two years.”

The Family Leader has removed link to anti-gay seminars [Iowa Independent]

Right, the link should’t be on the Family Leader’s page. But here’s the thing: This particularly heinous anti-gay program shouldn’t be ON ANYONE’S PAGE, ANYWHERE, EVER! But it was part of this collective Iowa effort for quite some time: Created by the same staff, stewarded in the same mindset, and used to rally the same locals that the Family Leader is currently hoping to grab. So The Family Leader can’t just kill the link and expect it to be all better. They have done great damage to the discourse, while giving us all an open window into how this organization thinks.

Oh, and as for Bob Vander Plaats striving to put distance between himself and the program? Well yes, as we’ve mentioned before, the program does predate his official time with this organization. But the truth is that former candidate Vander Plaats has long been part of this movement. He was speaking with them long before he was speaking for them:

So yea, okay, good that they’re essentially repudiating this connection. But are they sorry they made it happen, or are they simply sorry they got caught?




Good As You

—  David Taffet

State Department Creates New Visa Program for Same-Sex Partners of Foreign Service Employees

In a cable issued yesterday, the State Department informed its personnel worldwide that it has created a program under which non-citizen same-sex partners of Foreign Service employees can obtain visas to allow them to come to the U.S. when the State Department employee partner receives a domestic assignment.  An employee’s same-sex partner will now be eligible for a J-1 visa, allowing them to live and work in this country under certain conditions.  This development is the latest in a range of benefits extended to the partners of Foreign Service employees by the Obama administration.

The State Department’s action is an unfortunate necessity because, under current U.S. immigration law, while American citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their spouses and other family members for immigration purposes, they are not permitted to do for their same-sex partners.  As a result, a non-citizen partner must have an independent reason to remain in the country lawfully – such as a work or student visa.  Unfortunately, all too often, binational same-sex couples are left with the heart-wrenching choice between the country they love and the person they love.  That is why HRC supports the Uniting American Families Act, legislation that would end this inhumane treatment of loving, committed same-sex couples.

We applaud today’s action by the State Department on behalf of its LGBT employees, but also urge the Administration and Congress to take action to ensure that all binational same-sex couples are treated fairly by our nation’s immigration laws.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

Diocese of Colorado Springs starts 12-step program for gays

In case anyone thinks the enablers and protectors of child rapists, a.k.a. the Catholic Church, can’t sink any lower in their attempts to demonize gay people, they have — again.

Pam Spaulding posted a blurb about a 12-step program for gays started by the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Pam, as usual, appropriately sums up the situation:

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry at news like this given the current reputation of the Catholic Church.

Exactly.

This is dangerous stuff. They’re just ruining more people’s lives.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

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

Florida Halts Change to AIDS Program

FLORIDA ADAP X390 (GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COMFlorida put on hold a potential change to the salary eligibility for its
AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which if enacted would have bumped
hundreds of people from the program.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Wells Fargo Gives $150K to AIDS Program

MARK ANTON GARY HALL X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMMark Anton (pictured, left), the executive director of Palm Springs,
Calif.’s AIDS Assistance Program, happily received a 0,000 check for
his organization from Wells Fargo Bank, presented by executive Gary Hall
(right) this week.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin