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

DADT Spouse Survey Revealed

DADTSpouseSurveyx180 (Facebook) | Advocate.comA survey of military spouses asks whether they would encourage their husbands or wives to leave the armed services if the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is repealed.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

DADT: Spouse Survey Revealed

NOTE FROM PAM: The reaction from Servicemembers United…

“This survey of military spouses contains many of the same insulting and derogatory assumptions and insinuations about gays and lesbians that ran throughout the last survey,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army Human Intelligence Collector who was discharged under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” “Answer choices suggest things like the Defense Department possibly distributing flyers in military neighborhoods if, as they say, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is repealed and that the 'readiness' of military families might somehow be impacted. Again we stress that neither the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff nor anyone else would ever stand for such insulting questions being asked about any other minority group in the military in this day and age. The Pentagon's senior leadership should seriously consider Servicemembers United's offer to meet with them in person to talk about the insensitivity of these surveys and how the poor handling of these surveys might negatively impact implementation.”


 

 Politico has posted a copy of the survey about “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” the Department of Defense is sending out to 150,000 (opposite-sex) spouses of servicemembers.

To be fair, promising reports broke Wednesday that a Pentagon spokes person called speaking to same-sex spouses a “high priority” for the working group. But upon closer examination, as with the original survey of troops, it does seem little thought was actually given to how to get around the problems inherent to DADT legislation.

Regardless, the survey indicates that the Pentagon Working Group learned little from the previous uproar and repeats many of the same errors. After the fold some select questions and commentary.

———————————————————–

 

Cross posted at Daily Kos, please rec if you can.

Granted this process was flawed from the start, both from a political and policy point.

Politically, slow walking any change is death. We saw how the GOP managed to turn the August break last year into “death panel”-palooza. As a strategy, slow-walking the repeal process may please the Pentagon, but it pleases no one else. Repeal advocates are frustrated and have hardly been quietier than they were when they were chaining themselves to the White House fence.

The discharge of Lt. Dan Choi and impending discharge of Lt Col. Victor Fahrenbach continue to make bad news for the administration. (See, July 10, 2010: Obama can't shake gay-rights fights). Fahrenbach's Hail Mary pass to save his career almost certainly will soon culminate in the Obama Justice Department marching into court to argue they can fire gay people just because they feel like it. We can argue whether they can do anything else, but it will be nails on a chalkboard for every LGBT American invested in being treated free of discrimination.

Meanwhile, the opposition still finds itself in a position to rally their own troops, creating their own distracting headlines and keeping the culture war alive.

And it isn't a strategy based on good policy. The Palm Center's report on 25 allied nations methods of addressing this issue found:

“All the countries studied completed their implementations of repeal either immediately or within four months of the government’s decision to end discrimination. These experiences confirm research findings which show that a quick, simple implementation process is instrumental in ensuring success. Swift, decisive implementation signals the support of top leadership and confidence that the process will go smoothly, while a “phased-in” implementation can create anxiety, confusion, and obstructionism.”

“Anxiety, confusion and obstructionism?” Sound familiar? Here's the latest round.

The Politico story is here, and a link to the survey is here (warning PDF).

The letter that accompanied the survey:

And again, they are testing the troop's gaydar as Nate Silver pointed out:

8. Has your spouse ever worked on a daily basis with an individual he or she believed to be a homosexual Service member?
Yes
No
Don't know

I just find this just so ridiculously over-dramatic.

11. If Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed, the military will want to prepare and assist spouses in understanding the new policy. How would you like the military to provide you with information on the new policy? MARK ALL THAT APPLY
• No special activities or communications would be necessary
• Distribute printed information to spouses about repeal
• Provide information about repeal on military Web sites
• Have interactive chats available on line to answer questions from Service member spouses
• Provide information through military chaplains trained to work with spouses and family members on repeal
• Provide information through military counselors trained to work with spouses and family members on repeal
• Provide information through Family Readiness Group/Work-Life Program leaders trained to work with spouses and family members on repeal
• Offer courses to spouses on how to discuss repeal within their families.
• Other, please specify: ______

How much is there to explain? Daddy or mommy's co-worker isn't getting kicked out anymore.

I mean, courses? Courses? They're going to make a whole curriculum on this issue? Will it be accredited? Can you get your BA in “Mommy works with a Homo?” So the whole family can go in an learn how to tell little Bobby, “Ok, you know that girl Michelle that Daddy works with? At the end of the day, when she's done filling artillery shells, she goes home to a woman, not a  man. She always did, but now the Army has decided that it's ok for her to say it out loud. So, we just want you to be prepared that Daddy's friend at work may say she's a “lesbian” sometime over the course of her workday with daddy. Do you know what a lesbian is?”

It's just absurd to me.

16. How important a factor would a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell be to you in making decisions about your spouse's future in the military?
• Very important
• Important
• Neither important nor unimportant
• Unimportant
• Very unimportant
• Don't Know

19. Would a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell affect your willingness to recommend military service to a family member or close friend?
• Yes, I would be more likely to recommend military service to a family member or close friend
• Yes, I would be less likely to recommend military service to a family member or close friend
• No, it would not affect my willingness to recommend military service to a family member or close friend
• Don't know

I seriously wonder, why bother asking this question? Can anything useful be gleaned from whether the spouses would recommend service? Of all the factors that influence the military's ability to recruit–compensation, safety, VA benefits, college tuition, economic climate, current military mission–does anyone imagine spouses attitudes about DADT could possibly have a measurable impact?

24. Assume Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and you live on-base housing. If a gay or lesbian Service member lived in your neighborhood with their partner, would you stay on-base or try to move out?
• I would stay on-base
• I would try to move out
• Don't Know
• Does not apply, I would not live on-base

25. While living on-base, which of the following would  you do?
• I would make a special effort to get to know the gay or lesbian Service member
• I would get to know them like any other neighbor
• I would generally avoid them when I could
• I would do nothing
• I would do something else, please specify ______
• Don't know

These are the sorts of questions many heterosexuals may never understand why the very premise is so offensive. The very framing of “like” any other neighbor. Which of course they are not, they're gay, they're gay, they're gay! OMG! They're gay!

All my neighbors in my Brooklyn apartment building live daily with a gay neighbor (actually, several). I doubt they queried the landlord how many known homosexuals lived in the building before they signed their lease.

And life goes on. They water my plants when I'm out of town, and I'll move their clothes into the dryer if they ask me to and hand me the quarters.

The military taking time to survey such a thing is a validation of the viewpoint that objecting to living near a homosexual is somehow rational, somehow a viewpoint that should be considered. As Servicemeber's United's Alex Nicholson said of the last survey, “it is simply impossible to imagine a survey with such derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations going out about any other minority group in the military.”

The survey also hints that the DOD may shape their obligations to LGB servicemembers' spouses and partners around this popular vote. We see hints of this in the following questions.

27. Assume Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed. Would attendance of a gay or lesbian Service member with his or her partner affect how often you attend these types of military social events?
• Yes, I would attend these types of military social events more often
• Yes, I would attend these types of military social events less often
• No, it would not affect my attendance at these types of military social events
• Don't know

29. Assume Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and your spouse is deployed. Would the presence of a partner of a gay or lesbian Service member affect how often you attend deployment-support activities?
• Yes, I would attend deployment-support activities more often
• Yes, I would attend deployment-support activities less often
• No, it would not affect my attendance at deployment-support activities
• Don't know

Will the answer to these questions determine whether LGB servicemembers' spouses are included or excluded from company events or support services?

Granted how the military goes forward on the issue of LGB partners is far from clear. DOMA prevents them from legally recognizing spouses, at least monetarily. They won't be given pensions, health insurance, placed in military housing. (Unless the military tried to use their time-honor deference from the Constitution to argue that DOMA–like freedom of speech and expression–does not apply to them. Hmmmm….? Pipe dream.)

But regardless, the topic has been put on the table. And even if the military stands up, does the right thing and implements a policy of inclusion, you've handed fuel to opponents. They will always be able to say, “But they asked our opinion and defied our will!” They will claim survey bias and victimhood at the gay agenda that brought in a fix. The issue will live for years.

We are no longer arguing this issue from a point of principle, on doing what is right. (Which was actually the powerful bottom line that resonated in Admiral Mike Mullen's testimony before the Senate:

“I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me personally it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

No, this survey process moves the whole debate over to “what the people want,” territory, “what's the consensus?” We're seeking common ground. And, realistically, political cover, but for what conclusion?

Family Readiness is defined as to how prepared military families are to handle the challenges of military life.
 
32. Assume Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed. Would repeal affect your family readiness?
• Yes, it would improve my family readiness
• Yes, it would reduce my family readiness
• No, it would have no effect on my family readiness
• Don't know

I just find this question laughable in its vagueness and lack of meaning.

And of course, it's sad a major civil right battle will be waged, possibly won or lost by whether someone's opinion of how it affects their “family readiness,” whatever that means.

I wish our Commander in Chief would listen to the Commander in Chief of January 2010:

“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do.

I'm sorry. You don't get to claim the principled high ground in a televised speech for applause of a nation and then walk it back by following up and asking 550,000 other people “What do you think is the right thing to do? And you? And you? And you?”

Just do the right thing. Lead.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Gay 90210 Character Revealed?

Last month, 90210 producers teased fans with the promise that one of the
three male characters pictured here would be coming out in the fall.
Now, television website Zap2it.com claims to know which one it is.
Daily News

—  John Wright

Gay 90210 Hunk Revealed

90210
Last month, Andy posted an item that revealed one of the hunky male characters on 90210 would come out of the closet this upcoming season. Speculation focused on characters played by actors Matt Lanter, Michael Steger and Trevor Donovan. Well, Zap2it claims they have received confirmation on who it will be from "a source close to the production." 

I've posted the answer AFTER THE JUMP for those fans of the show who don't want the surprise ruined.

T 

It's Trevor Donovan's character, Teddy Montgomery. Kyle Riabko, who took over for Jonathan Groff in Spring Awakening, will play his love interest.

I've never seen the 90210 re-boot but I just might tune in, if only for this coming out episode.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright