Trevor Project reports spike in calls from trans youth

Lou Weaver

The Trevor Project — the nation’s largest LGBTQ youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization — late on Wednesday, Aug. 2, issued a statement noting a growing number of calls, text messages and online chats coming into the agency from transgender youth correspondingly most notably with President Trump’s tweet regarding transgender military service members, and news coverage of proposed “bathroom bills” in the Texas legislature.

According to the Trevor Project, of the approximately 178 contacts per day (on average), 7.3 percent typically self-identify as transgender. Within 24 hours of Trump’s tweet regarding transgender military service members, contacts from transgender individuals spiked to 17.5 percent of all contacts. And, the week after the Texas Legislature introduced the anti-trans “bathroom bill,” contacts from transgender young people doubled to 14.7 percent.

“As an adult living my life as a transgender man, I know first hand what it feels like to feel scared, alone, and vulnerable,” said Lou Weaver, transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas. “The anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and all of the anti-transgender policies have directly resulted in members of our community being assaulted and our parents being afraid for their children. We hope the news from the Trevor Project will inform lawmakers and result in them rejecting all discriminatory bathroom bill legislation targeting our transgender neighbors, families and friends.”

Chuck Smith, Equality Texas CEO, added, “It’s summertime. Families with children should be having fun and reconnecting during their summer break. Instead, families with trans youth are traveling for hours to testify against bathroom bills, because the lieutenant governor has decided to pick on an already bullied group of kids.

“The news from the Trevor Project regarding the spike in communications is heartbreaking,” he continued. “Attacking transgender kids with discriminatory legislation puts them in crisis. Enough is enough! The Texas Legislature needs to stop the bathroom bills.”

Weaver and Smith both stressed Equality Texas is fighting not about bathrooms, but against “policies that will have lifelong consequences for our families and communities. Equality Texas will continue to hold janti-LGBTQ legislators accountable.”


—  Tammye Nash

Same-sex marriage reduces adolescent suicide

A new study released by the Juvenile American Medical Association indicates that legalization of same-sex marriage has reduced adolescent suicide attempts.

Using information from 47 states, same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7 percent reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt over the past year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-to-24-year-olds.

The report concludes that some of the reasons for reduction in suicide include policies preventing same-sex marriage constitute social stigma and increased media attention that accompanies legalization includes increased social support.

“For each of these reasons, same-sex marriage policies may reduce the stigma experienced by adolescents who are sexual minorities,” the report concludes.

Prior research suggests an association between same-sex marriage policies and mental health.

This trend has been noticed for awhile. After Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, “expenditures on mental health care significantly decreased among men who have sex with men in the year following legalization of same-sex marriage relative to the year prior.”

—  David Taffet

Funeral set for Nino Jackson

Nino Jackson“With sorrow, we confirm the passing of our brother, Nino Acox Jackson,” the Rev. Alex Byrd wrote today (Friday, Feb. 19)  on his Facebook page. “His body was recovered only days ago.”

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22 at Living Faith Covenant Church, 3403 Shelly Blvd.

Jackson, 26, had been missing since Jan. 19. Dallas police issued a “critical missing” bulletin on Jan. 29. Jackson’s car was found abandoned on the Highway 190 exit ramp to I-30 over Lake Ray Hubbard. Divers searched an area of the lake, but found nothing in the murky water.

This week, a body was pulled from the lake, which has now been identified as Jackson’s.

—  David Taffet

Suicide by McKinney teen recalls series of bullying deaths


Raymond Howell, Jr., (Instagram)

Raymond Howell Jr., 14, was found dead of an apparent suicide near a culvert beside busy Eldorado Parkway in McKinney on Thursday, April 2. The McKinney Boyd High School freshman is believed to have committed suicide after being bullied by older students.

According to CBS 11, Howell had recently asked for a transfer to a different school to escape the bullying.

School districts throughout Texas have anti-bullying policies as a result of a series of suicides in the fall of 2012, including several in Texas and Oklahoma. It was during that period that Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns rose to national attention with his story of being bullied as a teen.

The McKinney police public information officer didn’t return a call today to confirm whether the bullying that led to Howell’s death was LGBT-related.

The Trevor Project hotline is a toll-free 24 hour LGBTQ suicide prevention line at 1-866-488-7386.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING NEWS: Robin Williams is dead


Nathan Lane, Robin Williams, Gene Hackman and Diane Wiest in The Birdcage.

Robin Williams, 63, is dead of an apparent suicide. Marin County Sheriff’s Office officials have confirmed  that the Oscar-winning actor was found just before noon at his home in Tiburon in Northern California.

TMZ reports that Williams is believed to have died of asphyxia, and notes that he had recently gone into rehab to “focus on his sobriety.” Williams battled alcohol and drug addiction in the 1980s but had been sober for 20 years.

Los Angeles Times reports note that Williams rose to fame in the 1980s as an alien wearing suspenders in the TV sitcom Mork and Mindy and was named the “funniest man alive” in 1997 by Entertainment Weekly. But it was his serious roles that won him critical acclaim: He won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting in 1997 and was nominated for Oscars for his roles in The Fisher King in 1991, Dead Poets Society in 1989 and Good Morning, Vietnam in 1987.

LGBT fans also remember him for his role as Nathan Lane’s husband in The Birdcage in 1996 and a divorced father who dons old lady drag to get to spend time with his kids in Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993.

Susan Schneider, Williams’ wife, told TMZ: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.  I am utterly heartbroken.”

—  Tammye Nash

REVIEW: ‘Gidion’s Knot’ at KDT

Leah Spillman and Jenni Kirk in ‘Gidion’s Knot’ at KDT.

A mother attends a parent-teacher conference to discuss her fifth-grader, who was suspended for a week, but the the teacher doesn’t recall making the appointment … unless the mother is … oh, her.

That’s the first 20 minutes or so of the 80 minutes that make up Gidion’s Knot, a regional premiere now playing at The MAC. It’s a frustrating first quarter, with long, slow, wordless scenes and intentionally obtuse exposition. How can the teacher, Miss Clark (Leah Spillman), childless and new to the classroom not recall a conference set up only three days ago? Then again, when the mother, Corryn (Jenni Kirk) arrives in her class the first time, why doesn’t she just say her son’s name, or Miss Clark’s, and save us all the discomfort and mystery?

The answer is pretty simply, actually: Then the play would only be 62 minutes long, and the author, Johnna Adams, wouldn’t have been able to impress us with her stagecraft — her ability to pull a Mamet out of a hat. It’s a playwrighting gimmick, a first-act conundrum meant to draw us in but which only holds in sharp relief the incompleteness that infests the entire play.

Some of that incompleteness is intentional. Miss Clark and Corryn are both incomplete women, especially when it comes to children: The teacher without any of her own (she has a cat instead), and the single mother, not especially devoted to her only child but trying to make up for it when, alas, it’s too late. No wonder they don’t communicate in full thoughts or engage in sensible dialogue — they are both cut off in some ways, adrift in their work.

It turns out that the reason Miss Clark forgot about the meeting (one for which Corryn is 20 minutes late, a further indication of her lack of parental responsibility) is that she assumed it had been canceled — after all, the child in question, Gidion, killed himself over the weekend. What led to that? And how was it related to his suspension? More mysteries, more drawn-out explanations.

When the reasons are finally revealed — quite astonishingly, if melodramatically (more extended exposition, as if Adams were terrified her play would only last 38 minutes) — it’s a further disconnect for teacher and mom: Gidion was a troubled, Miss Clark says — brilliant says mom … but why can’t he be both?

Gidion’s Knot bulges with literary and mythic references (check out the title itself), and the points it raises are thoughtful and complex, but its weaknesses are just as apparent. “Want to get people on your side? Throw in a dead child!” Corryn hisses at Miss Clark about modern society, but that’s exactly what she’s doing (and what Adams is). A dead kid raises all sorts of troubling questions, and how can outsiders (Miss Clark, the audience) judge the emotional reaction of a distraught mother?

But that’s what the play invites us to do, and Corryn — fiercely played by Kirk, who’s matched with coolness by Spillman — falls short. (Her last name, it turns out, is Fell.) She’s a bundle of contradictions, who demands the participation of the school’s principal but gets angry at Miss Clark when she won’t engage in tit-for-tat sniping, who blames Miss Clark even though she was deaf to her own child’s pain, who wants to play “what’s my line?” guessing games but criticizes efforts at deflection. She’s also critic-proof, because who are we to say her irrationality isn’t justified?

And therein lines the heart of Gidion’s Knot — its unresolvability. All rules go out the window; like the Gordian Knot, it cannot be solved, it can only be destroyed and rebuilt. Sometimes there are no answers, just more questions.

Plays through April 26.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Texas state legislators tell LGBT youth, ‘It Gets Better’

Picture 11

Several LGBT allies in the state Legislature have teamed up to make a two-part “It Gets Better” video to encourage queer youth that even in Texas, times are changing.

Lawmakers featured in the video are Rep. Mary Gonzalez, Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, Sen. Wendy Davis, Rep. Mark Strama, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Rep. Rafael Anchia, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Sen. Kirk Watson, Sen. Royce West, Rep. Chris Turner, Sen. Jose Rodriguez, Rep. Garnet Coleman, Sen. John Whitmire, Rep. Donna Howard, Rep. Justin Rodriguez, Rep. Gene Wu, and Sen. Sylvia Garcia.

The video was made in memory of Asher Brown, a gay Houston teen who committed suicide after being bullied. It was produced by Omar Araiza and Brianna Roberts, with filming and editing by Nathan Burkhart.

Araiza said coming out to his family at 16 was the hardest thing for him because many people in his life has homophobic beliefs. But things changed and he made it through the dark times when he wanted to end his life.

Now, he said he has hope because of the changing attitudes across the state, which was reflected by the strong support for LGBT issues in this year’s legislative session with a record number of pro-LGBT bills filed.

“This change in conversation needs to be made visible to LGBT youth who believe they are alone,” Araiza said. “Because they are supported and cared for by many. These videos are proof that in Texas, we have brave elected leaders willing to stand and support what many call today’s civil rights movement. While Texas may not be on the forefront of civil rights, change experienced here is a sign that full LGBT rights are inevitable.

“Things will continue to get better. We will all make it better.”

Watch the videos below.

—  Dallasvoice

Porn actor Wilfred Knight kills self after screed on immigration inequality

WKJust last month, we reported that gay porn actor Arpad Miklos had died of an apparent suicide — the latest in a string of deaths to hit the adult film community. Then last week, we learned that another porn legend had killed himself.

Wilfred Knight, known for his videos for Lucas Entertainment and Colt Studio, took his own life just two weeks after the suicide of his partner. He had just turned 35. What makes Knight’s death especially poignant were the reasons behind it.

See, Knight — a French citizen — had moved with his partner to Canada once his U.S. student visa expired, because even though the two were legally married in Canada in 2011, the U.S. government refused to acknowledge it, due to the Defense of Marriage Act. That meant they had to leave for the Great White North, where Knight’s partner accepted a job that included same-sex partner benefits.

Knight’s husband, however, lost his job about six months ago, and last month, took his own life. Knight found the body. The adult film actor then took his own life, angered by the unfair treatment of gay couples by the federal government.

How do we know all this? Because Knight said so. In a screed published on his blog, Knight railed against American immigration laws, blaming his partner’s death on the lack of same-sex rights. It was practically a suicide note.

Because Knight was most famous for his involvement in the porn industry, it’s unlikely the story will have much resonance outside the gay press. But isn’t this exactly what should be pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court when deciding DOMA’s constitutionality? How many couples like this much meet the tragic consequences of homophobic immigration policies?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

TEX’N THE CITY: Item No. 9 — BFF

When Brandon James Singleton began his list of 10 things he needed to accomplish before his 30th birthday later this month, the one thing he knew was already lined up in his life was having a BFF. But sitting down and thinking about what that means has its own consequences ….  

You remember the movie Now and Then with Rosie O’Donnell and Demi Moore? Oh yeah, and Tom Hanks’ wife …. About those four girls who became best friends over a summer and swore to each other they’d always stay in contact and return home for the most important times in each other’s life …. And when Rita Wilson’s character gets pregnant, they all show up for the birth of her baby?

No? … Well I love that movie. It was always like the foundation — the quintessential example — for what I thought friendship should be. And hoped it would be for me.

Well, it’s not.

I mean, I’m (surprisingly) still in contact with a few of the kids I used to play Red Rover with back in the day, thanks to Instagram and Facestalk … I mean Facebook.

I met my best friend almost seven years ago in New York City through a mutual associate and it’s been everything, even dealing with a jealous mutual “friend” who’s tried several times to turn us against each other. Fortunately, we always trusted each other more.

We’ve dealt with the difficulty of not living in the same city. But thanks to cells and social media, feels like we’re never too far away. And let’s not forget that crazy ex of his that threatened my life out of insecurity. Ohhhh, person who referred to himself as, “E-Dogg” — ya never stood a chance. Ha.

But a month ago, I almost lost him.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Montana Lance’s mom dies

Montana Lance

Debbie Lance, mother of bullying-suicide victim Montana Lance, died suddenly over the weekend, according to Channell 11 news. She suffered from the genetic disorder Marfan’s Disease. She also had several heart surgeries over the last few years.

After being bullied repeatedly, Montana hung himself in the school nurse’s office in The Colony in 2010. Debbie and her husband Jason became crusaders for anti-bullying legislation. Along with parents of Asher Brown, the Truongs of Houston, the Lances were among the most outspoken parents of suicide victims and testified before the Senate Education Committee.

From our March 2011 coverage of the hearing on the bill:

Montana Lance’s parents both testified before the committee. His father said that when Montana went to teachers or administrators, they told him not to be a tattletale. Jason Lance said he called the school and followed up every time he knew his son was bullied. Deborah Lance, his mother, said her son was simply overcome by bullying before he went into the nurse’s bathroom and hung himself. She said that in a year, four children in Texas have taken their own lives because of bullying. If legislators don’t act, they can expect another eight to commit suicide before they meet again.

And according to Channel 33 News, which interviewed her two weeks ago, she was planning to be back at the Legislature in 2013 lobbying to strengthen the law.

—  David Taffet