Community rallies to support GLBT Community Center President

Tim Brookover

Last fall Tim Brookover, a long-time Houston LGBT activist and current president of the Houston GLBT Community Center, made public that he was undergoing treatment for cancer. Throughout his treatment Brookover has remained the vibrant advocate for LGBT people that Houston has always known him to be (he even started a cancer support group at the center). Brookover recently ended his employment in the office of Houston City Council member Sue Lovell and applied for disability.

While his application is pending the people of his long-time church home have decided to help. Bethel United Church of Christ (1107 Shepherd) will host a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for Brookover’s expenses this Sunday, Feb. 12, at noon. Ticket’s are $10 and include beverages and speghetti. RSVP via facebook.

—  admin

Feedback • 12.23.11

Senior housing in Houston

I am very interested in this article as I have been dealing with some of these issues here in Houston.  As a 75-year-old gay male who lost a partner to AIDS back in 1995, and then lost my business in 2004, I have had great difficulty in surviving.  Only recently, through the help of some fellow gay seniors, I was able to move into the Allen Parkway Village, run by the Houston Housing Authority.  I have a quite comfortable small apartment, with my faithful basset hound, for a very low rent with all bills included. I contacted thutpublisher of a local gay magazine, OutSmart, suggesting they do an article on this resource for seniors, but never received a response.  And a few years ago I attended a weekly support group called SPRY at the Montrose Counseling Center  and curiously this resource for living was never mentioned.

Larry Lingle, Houston

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Gay marriage: Healthy and easy

My husband and I recently discovered how relatively easy it is to get married in New York. After doing our online application, once we got to the City Clerk office, we were married within three hours, including time to go across the street to get a judicial waiver for the 24-hour waiting period. EVERYONE was very helpful and they obviously think it’s really cool that people come from all over the country to get married there. The Officiant in the City Clerk Office was very professional.

Stan Guy, , via Instant tea

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TO SEND A LETTER  |  We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include  your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Uptown Psychotherapy celebrates 15 years

Therapists say that focus has changed over the years from being primarily on HIV to things like marriage and parenting

SHRINK | Deborah Beckman, left, Will Handy, center, and Tim Myrick say that over 15 years things have changed for their LGBT clients. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When Deborah Beckman and Tim Myrick registered the name Uptown Psychotherapy Associates in 1996, fewer than 10 other business were using the term “Uptown.”

When they renewed their name 10 years later, more than 600 businesses had it as part of their registered name.

But that’s not all that’s changed during Beckman and Myrick’s 15 years in business together.

The two met in 1994 when they were interning at Legacy Counseling. When they opened their private practice, the main issue they continued to confront was AIDS.

Will Handy, who joined Myrick and Beckman a few years after they started their practice, still works at Legacy while maintaining his private practice at Uptown.

“In the old days, it was about helping people deal with the end of their lives,” Handy said.

Beckman said that now she works with her HIV-positive clients on issues of aging, supporting stability and incorporating taking medication into a routine that’s as normal as brushing your teeth.

Uptown and Legacy still have a good working relationship.

“If someone calls Uptown and cannot afford private therapy, we refer them to Legacy and know they’ll get good care,” Handy said. “Legacy will sometimes refer to us if a private setting will help a client more.”

Uptown has the only private HIV-positive support group in the area, Handy said, adding that although members have changed, the group has been around since the practice opened.

That gives the group and the therapists the collective wisdom of 15 years’ worth of members, Handy said.

Today, Beckman said, only about a third of her clients list HIV as their main concern. She said she hears a lot of relationship issues. And with the current economic crisis, she speaks to many people trying to make decisions about their careers.

Beckman said one of the most common questions she hears is, “What do I want to do next?”

One thing that hasn’t changed much, both Beckman and Hardy said, is how people talk about their relationships.

Over the past 15 years, same-sex marriage has been legalized in a number of states, but both therapists said gays and lesbians have always taken their own relationships seriously. It’s just that now, with marriage equality becoming a more high-profile issue, other people are taking those relationships more seriously, too.

Myrick, Beckman and Handy said they work with many people whose original religious foundation was punitive.

“Some are in a state of reaction to what amounts to religious persecution,” Handy said. “Others haven’t reacted to that enough.”

Beckman said that the difference over the past 15 years is that now so many churches have adopted an attitude of “Who’s gay? Who’s straight? Who cares?” She said that when she started in practice, she could hand out a very short list of churches that would welcome the LGBT community.

“Now people really can find a church that fits,” she said. “We can give directions on how to go church shopping.”

More and more gays and lesbians are deciding to have children. And Beckman and Handy discuss with their clients what parenting means and why they want to be parents.

Are they doing it “to prove they’re super parents, or are they doing it for the kid?” Beckman asked.

Handy added that it is the therapists’ job to make sure that couples and individuals want to be parents for “all the right reasons.”

Handy and Beckman both agreed that the best change over the past 15 years has been among some of their youngest clients:

They have some need to come to therapy but they’ve been OK about being gay since they were young.

They’ve had gay role models, had other friends who were out in school and watched gay characters on television.

Handy said it was a big difference from when he was the first and only out licensed therapist in Madison, Wisc.

“It’s truly heartening. A joy to experience,” he said. And he’s learned a valuable lesson from those younger clients: “Don’t go looking for trauma when it isn’t there,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

World AIDS Day commemorated at CoH

John Thomas Bell Tower

In addition to being World AIDS Day, today marks the 10th anniversary of the John Thomas Bell Tower at the Cathedral of Hope, which has become a landmark along Inwood Road.

Panels from the AIDS quilt including one remembering Thomas, the first executive director of the AIDS Resource Center, will be on display at COH’s new Interfaith Peace Chapel all day.

A service will be at 7:15 p.m. in the main building, conducted by the Rev. Paul Tucker, who was the first AIDS chaplain hired by the church when its current facility opened.

—  David Taffet

Dallas BiNet marking ‘Celebrate Bisexuality Day’ with mixer at Bronx

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

The local chapter of BiNet will mark Celebrate Bisexuality Day on Thursday, Sept. 23, with a mixer at 6 p.m. in the back patio area of The Bronx on Cedar Springs Road.

Nationally, this is the 19th annual event according to BiNet USA.

“We’re getting together to bring visibility to bisexuals in North Texas during Pride,” said Latisha McDaniel. “We’re trying to make the B not silent anymore.”

She said bisexuals often just blend.

“They just lump the B’s,” she said. “We’re either in a same-sex relationship or we’re in a straight relationship,” so bisexuals are often seen as either gay or straight.

McDaniel said that coming out as bisexual is often risky in any relationship. In the gay and lesbian community, she said that bisexuality is often treated as a transitional phase.
“We’re treated as 2 percent milk, kind of lukewarm,” she said.

McDaniel said she has even been asked why she cares about marriage equality.

“It’s as if bis come to the gayborhood for their kicks and then go home,” she said.

Morgan O’Donnell said she has been with DFW BiNet since April.

“I had been in a job that was fairly supportive,” she said. “I left that job and didn’t have support. When I went to BiNet, they went all out to welcome me.”

She said DFW BiNet’s support group meets the first Saturday of each month at Resource Center Dallas to discuss issues of particular concern to people coming out and living as bisexual.

“We’re considered to be sitting on the fence,” O’Donnell said, adding that is the number one issue bisexuals regularly address to straights as well as to gays and lesbians.
“It helps to be with a group of people who share similar experiences,” she said.

O’Donnell said that the event at The Bronx is for allies and supporters as well as bisexuals and those who are questioning.

“The evening will give people an opportunity to celebrate their bisexuality,” O’Donnell said, adding that she hopes the event brings more visibility to DFW BiNet.

A $5 donation at the door is suggested. Reservations are not required but are suggested since seating is limited. Reservations can be made on the group’s Facebook page found under DFW BiNet.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Gay couple separated by immigration law as one fights cancer; congressman won’t help

Aurelio Tolentino, left, and his partner, Roi Whaley

Roi Whaley and Aurelio Tolentino, both HIV-positive, met in 2004 through a support group for people living with AIDS. Roi is a native of Gulfport, Miss., and Tolentino, a registered nurse, had come to the U.S. on a work visa from his home in the Philipines.

Then, during the process of applying for his green card, authorities discovered Tolentino’s HIV-positive status, and immigration officials informed him he would have to leave the country. That was back in 2006, before President Barack Obama rescinded the policy prohibiting HIV-positive people from entering the U.S., either as immigrants or tourists.

Tolentino wasn’t too keen on going back to the Philipines. For one thing, it would mean leaving his partner, Whaley. On top of that, he had already been attacked and beaten for being gay in his home country, and if he were to return, it would likely happen again.

So Tolentino applied for asylum in the U.S. That application was denied because he had been in this country already for more than a year, and U.S. policy says anyone seeking asylum must apply within one year of entering the country.

Left with no other option, Tolention moved to Canada to live with his mother, who already has legal status as a permanent resident. He applied for asylum there and, once again, was denied. Now he may have no other choice than to return to the Philipines where he would possibly face harassment, violence and even death.

To make matters, Whaley was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. He left for Seattle on Friday, Sept. 3, for a visit to his oncologist, after which he planned to fly on to Canada to spend the month of September with Tolentino and his mother. It will likely be the last time the partners see each other, since Tolentino faces deportation to the Phillipines, and Whaley’s deteriorating health rules out the possibility of him visiting Tolentino there.

There is one hope: a plea to the Department of Homeland Security to grant Tolentino a humanitarian parole that would allow him to return to the U.S temporarily to be with his dying partner. But that’s not likely to happen, either, especially without intervention from Whaley’s congressman, Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Bay St. Louis, Miss.

With the help of Immigration Equality, based in Washington, D.C., Whaley and Tolentino have already asked once for Taylor’s help. An aide in Taylor’s office told Whaley no, the congressman wasn’t going to intervene. And Taylor’s office has failed so far to even return calls from Immigration Equality.

But Steve Ralls, director of communications for Immigration Equality, said Friday that neither the couple nor Immigration Equality is ready to give up yet. They are asking for the public’s help in lobbying Congressman Taylor to intervene and get Homeland Security to grant the humanitarian parole that will let Whaley spend his final days with the man he loves.

“Were Roi and Aurelio a married heterosexual couple, Roi would be eligible to apply to sponsor Aurelio for residency in the United States. Because they are a gay couple, however, that option is not open to them,” Ralls said in a press release sent out Friday. “Now, with Roi’s health deteriorating and Aurelio facing a move to the Philipines — where it would be nearly impossible for Roi to travel and be with him — the couple face impending separation. They are one of 36,000 such couples, according to an analysis of the 2000 Census data, facing this kind of situation.

“Despite having followed every immigration rule and voluntarily leaving the U.S. when immigration asked him to do so, Aurelio is now being punished under the law for following the law,” Ralls said.

If you want to help Immigration Equality fight for Roi and Aurelio, or if you are yourself part of an international same-sex couple trying to negotiate immigration law, contact the organization at 202-347-7007.

If you want to contact Congressman Taylor and encourage him to intervene on behalf of this couple, go to his website here to find addresses and phone numbers for his office in Washington, D.C., and all five of his offices in his district.

—  admin

Minn. pastor back in pulpit after gay report

PATRICK CONDON  |  Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — A Lutheran pastor in Minneapolis who opposes homosexuals being allowed to lead congregations says he is attracted to men but says he’s not a hypocrite because he never acted on his urges.

The Rev. Tom Brock told The Associated Press on Monday, Aug. 2 that he has known for many years that he is attracted to men. He says he is still a virgin at age 57 and doesn’t consider himself gay because he hasn’t acted on his attraction.

Brock’s sexuality became an issue after a gay magazine reported on his membership in a support group for Christians battling same-sex attraction. Brock was put on leave while a task force at Hope Lutheran Church looked into the matter.

Hope Lutheran’s executive pastor says the task force found Brock credible, and he was back in the pulpit on Sunday.

—  John Wright