DALLAS — Kathy Bowser and Fluffy Jones are trailblazers in the LGBTQ+ community. The couple has been together for more than 35 years, seeing decades of challenges and progress.
“It’ll be 36 years in October,” Kathy said. “Amidst the pandemic last year we ‘celebrated’ our 35th anniversary. Sitting in the backyard eating a fish dinner with two friends six feet away.”
Kathy will be the first to tell you she’s always felt comfortable being out, while Fluffy became more open a few years back.
“Once gay marriage was legal, and sadly, once my parents were both deceased, then I felt very comfortable being out,” Fluffy said. “And haven’t tried to hide it since then.”
Kathy and Fluffy weren’t overly confident that marriage equality would pass, so in 2014 they traveled to California to tie the knot.
“It was really special and we got rings and everything, made it official,” Fluffy said.
Then there is Jack and George. Jack Evans and George Harris were the first couple to legally marry as a gay couple in Dallas County. Since then Jack passed away. George is still alive – now 88.
“You can’t find two more thoughtful, considerate, and generous people,” longtime friend Chris Luna said. “It became such a shorthand, much like Sonny and Cher, or Donnie and Marie, you can just say Jack and George and everyone knew who you were talking about.”
But their road to happiness took time, and it came with challenges.
“George was fired from the CIA for being gay,” Luna said. “And Jack worked for a very large national retailer, and was also fired because he was gay.”
Luna said the couple is admired by many.
“There’s an expression that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and without a doubt, there are a lot of people who stand on the shoulders of Jack and George,” Luna said. “They were trailblazers and a lot of times people will talk about all that a trailblazer means is that you get the arrows shot at you first. And they did.”
Now as some members of the senior LGBTQ community are looking for senior care or retirement living, Resource Center is working to build a complex in North Texas specifically for LGBTQ seniors.
“The only other development like it in the entire state is in Houston and they just opened this year,” Resource Center Executive Director Cece Cox said. “It’ll be 84 units, most of them are one-bedroom, but five of them will be two bedrooms.”
Cox believes this type of affordable housing is essential.
“They’ve been disproportionately impacted by the fact that for years and years and years they couldn’t marry, so they haven’t been able to build up the same amount of assets, and they’ve been really disadvantaged financially through discrimination,” Cox said. “This will create a community where they can be safe and they can support one another and have a safe place to live.”
Kathy and Fluffy are in the process of evaluating their next housing option.
“We are 77 so we are looking at that. We downsized to a smaller house about 15 years ago and now we are looking at senior living facilities,” Kathy said. “A question we always ask is, ‘Are there other gay couples here?’ And there might be one, that they know about, and there might be more that they don’t know about.”
“I think we’re more afraid now if we have to go back into the closet for some living arrangement like a senior living facility or retirement community,” Fluffy said. “At that point, you never know because the people your own age are often the ones who still have older views.”
But as time goes on, the couple is thankful for progress but knows there is still work left to do.
“I don’t think we are where we need to be when it comes to trans people. Or bisexual people. Or people who are undetermined,” Kathy said. “We have friends who have children who are trans and there is a lot of pushback. But I think for the [lesbian and gay population] I think it’s a better world than it was.”
WFAA asked Fluffy if there was anything else she wanted to add.
“The only thing I can think of is a speech that Joel Burns gave, on the City Council in Fort Worth, several years back,” Fluffy said. “To young people, no matter how dark it seems at that time, especially in your teenage years, to hang in there because it gets better.”
The Coalition for Aging LGBT and the Resource Center do incredible work for LGBTQ seniors.