“Confessions of a Mormon Boy” at Theater LaB

Steven Fales

Steven Fales

Steven Fales (ironically pronounced “fails”) was born Mormon, sixth generation in fact, what he calls “Mormon DNA.” As a good Mormon boy he grew up, became a missionary, went to Brigham Young University, got married and had kids. The only problem being that Fales is gay. After a failed attempt at “reparative therapy” he was kicked out of the Mormon church, got divorced, moved to New York, became a prostitute and developed a crystal meth problem. If the story ended there Fales would be like any number of queer people injured by their intolerant upbringing and lost to a world only too willing to offer alternatives to healing, but the story didn’t end there. Fales, a trained actor, got his life together and started doing a stand-up comedy routine that eventually became his hit one-man play Confessions of a Mormon Boy.

More than just another tear-jerking coming out story, Confessions of a Mormon Boy connects the behaviors learned by growing up in an environment that tells people they will never be worthy of God’s love with the allure of chemical abuse. The play mixes pathos and tragedy with a very healthy dose of comedy (and it doesn’t hurt that former call-boy Fales is quite easy on the eyes).  Fales has written a story not just for the LGBT community, but also for the Mormon community of his youth (it’s played four times in Salt Lake City). For a play about prostitution and drug addiction Confessions of a Mormon Boy is neigh-on family friendly, containing no nudity or cursing.

Fales performs Confessions of a Mormon Boy at Theater LaB (1706 Alamo) Feb. 8-12. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 713-868-7516.

After the jump watch Fales perform the opening monologue:

—  admin

Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

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

What’s Brewing: Sarah Palin; Ron Natinsky; high court rejects challenge to D.C. gay marriage law

1. Sarah Palin is, not surprisingly, totally unapologetic (video above). In her first interview since the Tucson shooting (if you call an appearance on Fox News an interview), Palin says she’s been falsely accused of being an accessory to murder (her words, not ours). But Palin says she’s not going to let that lie live. No sir, she’s not going to sit down or shut up. In fact, the only reason the map with the rifle crosshairs was removed from her PAC’s website after the shooting is that some graphic artist decided on his own to take it down. But Palin’s not really even sure whether it’s been taken down or not. Besides, everyone uses those maps, just like everyone knows what “blood libel” means, you stupid media people. You probably think she should just say the two words that any decent human being would say after a tragedy like this — “I’m sorry.” Silly you.

2. District 12 Dallas City Councilman Ron Natinsky confirmed that he plans to run for mayor. Although he represents a conservative district in far North Dallas, Natinsky has been fairly supportive of the LGBT community, and he’s been endorsed in the past by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

3. BREAKING: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a group seeking to overturn same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C.

—  John Wright

The Blend Sunday Open Thread + updates on Arizona tragedy

There has been a lot of news out there for a weekend, particularly with the tragic Arizona shooting. First, this update on the condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition Sunday as investigators attempted to understand what motivated a gunman’s shooting rampage that killed six and as investigators asked for the public’s help in finding a possible accomplice who was still at large.

University Medical Center spokeswoman Darci Slaten told The Associated Press that Giffords remained sedated after undergoing a two-hour surgery Saturday and has not been conscious since the shooting. She said more information will be released at a news conference in which one of the doctors who operated on Giffords plans to speak.

Some other new information since last night (MSNBC).

Right: Investigators said they were looking for an accomplice, believed to be in his 50s, who may have assisted in the attack.

The Pima County Sheriff’s office listed the dead as
  • John M. Roll, 63, a federal district court judge.
  • Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, Giffords’ director of community outreach.
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a pastor at Mountain Ave. Church of Christ.
  • Christina-Taylor Green, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary.
  • Dorthy Morris, 76.
  • Phyllis Schneck, 79.

A 9mm Glock handgun that had what police described as “an extended clip” with 30 bullets was recovered at the scene, The Washington Post reported. Officials told The Associated Press the gun used in the attack was purchased legally. The Post said it was bought Nov. 30 from the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson.

…Law enforcement officials said members of Congress reported 42 cases of threats or violence in the first three months of 2010, nearly three times the 15 cases reported during the same period a year earlier. Nearly all dealt with the health care bill, and Giffords was among the targets.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

There is a discussion board at MSNBC where you can leave condolences for the families of those affected by the shootings.

* NYT: Bloodshed puts new focus on vitriol in politics.

***

* As horrible as the domestic terrorism news in Arizona was to take, look at what is going on south of the border related to narco-terrorism in a city known for tourism – 27 deaths, including 14 decapitated, rock Acapulco.

Feel free to post links to stories out there that may have been missed.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Guest column by David Mixner – DADT: The Ultimate American Tragedy

DADT: The Ultimate American Tragedy

by David Mixner, Live from Hell’s Kitchen

My policy generally is not to write or speak while angry. Anger has a tendency to blur my ability to think rationally. But quite honestly at this moment I have no desire to be rational. The failure of the United States Senate to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” yet again is an American tragedy. Yesterday, our elected officials continued their path of shame on this issue by failing to join the rest of the civilized world in allowing members of the LGBT community to serve their country honorably. What a disgrace.

Despite efforts to make this vote about procedures and politics, every one of us know this vote was about freedom and justice. Most importantly it was about the right of every American citizen to serve their country with honor and dignity.

Absolutely pay no attention to those who talk about procedures and the need for more debate. That is just total nonsense and doesn’t hold up no matter how you examine it. These senators have had nearly 18 years and over 14,000 discharges to figure out this policy. They have had their impact study. The Pentagon has signed off in favor of changing this policy. There have been numerous hearings and more information disseminated on this issue than any sane person can consume in a lifetime. Those who hold up the smoke screen of procedures are hiding behind a cloud of politics are simply cowards or homophobia – or both.

Make no mistake about it. Those are the only two options at this stage.

First the White House with support of our national organizations have made a horrible strategic mistake in not voting on this issue in the first year of the Presidency. They should be held accountable in some form. We would have not had Senator Kirk (R-Ill), Senator Manchin (D-WVa) or Senator Brown (R-Mass) voting “no” because all those votes would have been “yes” from the previous senators who held those seats. Those votes would have been Byrd (D-WVa), Burris (D-Illinois) and either Kennedy/Kirk (Democrats from Massachusetts). That would have given us sixty and maybe even an extra vote or so.

Second, thank you for Senator Susan Collins for being the sole vote from the Republican Party. You gave us a lot of grief in leading up to the vote but in the end you did the right thing. And despite my differences with Senator Lieberman, he deserves enormous thanks for fighting hard for the passage of DADT. He has not given up yet and there is still an outside shot we might succeed.

Third, there should be a special place in hell for Senator Brown of Massachusetts and Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. Both represent states that are overwhelmingly for repeal of DADT. The LGBT community and our allies should throw everything we have to defeat them in the next election. Fight Back USA? Like Fight Back New York we should hand them their walking papers. No one should contribute any funds to any group that will contribute to Democratic Senator Manchin of West Virginia. We should never forget his betrayal. Finally Senator Lincoln was at the dentist. I guess every reason we challenged her in the primary proved to be true.

Fourth, the vote was a cloture vote and not one on DADT. Why don’t we add it as an amendment to the President’s compromise keeping the Bush Tax Cuts and let us filibuster until it is added and passed! Let the Republicans explain to the CEO’s why their hatred of the LGBT community is holding up their tax breaks. Let’s give them hell. Let’s fight back and not roll over one more time and take another blow to our dignity and honor.

America had another dark moment in its history yesterday. However, the LGBT community will never give up no matter what the odds, how dark and how many obstacles placed in our way. We will fight in the courts. We will fight in the streets. We will fight at the ballot box. We will fight in our neighborhoods, schools and religious institutions. This much is certain – we will fight and we will win. Nothing you can do will stop our inevitable march to freedom.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Odessa gets a PFLAG chapter — plus, some tips for dealing with family over the holidays

Odessa is the latest Texas city to get a chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians.

According to the PFLAG website, the Odessa chapter is one of about 17 in Texas and 500 nationwide.

CBS 7 reports:

“My daughter told me at the age of 37 that she was gay,” says Shari Johnson.

And Johnson didn’t take the news lightly.

“I fell apart, went to pieces, thought it was the end of the world … begged God to change her … and in the process he changed me,” she claims.

She was changed through PFLAG.

“All of the people involved helped me understand that this wasn’t a tragedy. Found out I was lacking in the love department…and that’s the most important thing.”

That’s why she started a chapter here in her hometown of Odessa.

Also, as we perused the PFLAG site, we couldn’t help but notice these “Tips for a Happy Holiday for GLBT People.” If you plan to come out to family during the holidays or bring your partner home for a visit, they’re probably worth a look. For example:

• If you bring your partner home, don’t wait until late into the holiday evening to raise the issue of sleeping arrangements. Make plans in advance.

—  John Wright

Q Live! debuts with ‘Spring Awakening’ at McDavid Studio

Q Cinema branches out
Frank WederkindQ Cinema debuts their spinoff this week with some precision timing. QLive!, the new theater branch presents a staged reading of Frank Wedekind’s 1893 play Spring Awakening: A Children’s Tragedy.  The show’s two teens struggle with homosexuality, suicide and rape. Wederkind’s work is a dark contrast to the the musical which opens on Tuesday.

DEETS: McDavid Studio, 301 E. Fifth St., Fort Worth. 8 p.m. $10. QCinema.org.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Houston LGBT equality group plans protest near Asher Brown’s school

An LGBT equality group is organizing a protest and vigil on Tuesday afternoon near Hamilton Middle School, where gay 13-year-old Asher Brown was “bullied to death.”

According to the Facebook page, the event is being organized by the Foundation for Family and Marriage Equality, which is described on its own page as a “Houston social justice organization committed to equality for families headed by GLBTQ couples.”

From KTRK in Houston:

The demonstration is set to begin at 3pm across the street from Hamilton Middle School. That is the time that school lets out. Organizers of this event are calling it an anti-bully human rights demonstration and while it will highlight the case of Asher who was a student at Hamilton, the event will address the larger trend that we have seen across the country.

Sadly in September alone nine teens committed suicide across the U.S. because they say they were in some form or fashion bullied at school. Organizers and advocates say schools need programs in place and that states need to pass laws to protect kids like Asher and prevent further tragedy.

“Everybody was feeling really bad about this what has happened to Asher Brown and I think people were just kind of tired of it,” said rally organizer Barry Ouellette. “We wanted to get out and do something about it and make sure that action is taken.”

—  John Wright

Annise Parker on Asher Brown’s suicide

Mayor Annise Parker

Our old friend Michael Petrelis has been making a big deal of the fact that Houston Mayor Annise Parker hadn’t said anything about the suicide of 13-year-old Asher Brown. On Monday, Parker issued the following statement:

“What happened to Asher Brown, his family and friends is a tragedy. This situation is being investigated by the proper authorities, but it is a sign that bullying of any kind can have deadly consequences. It reminds us that young people who are targets of bullying need love and support.”

Asher, who was an eighth-grader at Hamilton Middle School in Cypress in northwest Harris County, is one of six known suicides nationwide over the last few weeks related to anti-gay bullying and harassment.

—  David Taffet