Sunday, March 3, 2013

Out Spotlight

This is a very different Out Spotlight and it's not about person but a group of brothers who stepped up to help their fellow brother on his way to become a man.   Fraternities are no really know as trailblazers for LGBT rights which is what makes this story out of Emerson College so great.  And for that, the brothers of  Emerson’s Alpha Chapter of Phi Alpha Tau as our Out Spotlight.

Earlier this year, Visual & Media Arts sophomore Donnie Collins pledged as a prospective brother to Phi Alpha Tau, the nation’s oldest professional communicative arts fraternity. An Alexandria, Virginia native, Collins didn’t come out as transgender until age 17 while attending a boarding school in Windsor, Conn. Of his time in an all-girls dorm, he says in a recent interview, “They were really nice, but it was all horrible."

So far, Collins has been taking his gender transition one step at a time. Barred from using his mother’s insurance to cover any physical transitions, he has singlehandedly covered the bulk of his hormone therapy since December 2011.

“I’d go to the endocrinologist and pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket, because, of course, I didn’t have insurance of my own,” he explains.
Collins now has a college health insurance policy through Emerson, a policy, like so many others, that is trans-exclusionary. It is common practice for insurance companies to deem female-to-male breast augmentation—or top surgery—as a cosmetic plastic surgery rather than a necessity.

Collins has been raising money for the procedure for months, but it seemed that one door after another would close in his face. His petition for a trans-inclusive policy was recently denied by the college's insurance plan, and his personal Chipin fund will cease when the crowd-funding site shuts down next month.

As his options were running out, Collins’s brothers in Phi Alpha Tau have rallied together to cover some of the surgery’s cost. The brothers set up a fundraising campaign on the crowdsourcing website IndieGoGo “less to raise money, and more to tell a story,” as they wrote.  “We care deeply about each and everyone,” reads another statement on the site,  “and rely on the entire active brotherhood to stand behind any one individual when they are in need.”

The brothers' fund has already surpassed the $2,000 they initially hoped to donate, and went on to raise the $8,100 to cover the total cost of the procedure  and they kept raising more money.

Collins has been completely overwhelmed by the wave of support, admitting to have cried out of gratitude when he heard what his brothers were doing. But the thought that this is a fraternity raising money for him never even crossed his mind.

“I was just like, ‘Oh that’s such a Tau thing to do,’ and I didn’t even think it was that weird,” he says. “But then I started sending [the indiegogo link] out to people, and they were like, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing! See, Greek Life isn’t bad; it’s amazing.’”

The brothers’ site says that they hope less to raise money with their efforts and more to spread acceptance, brotherhood, and love. “We are here... to tell a story. The story of transformation, the story of self-discovery, and the story of brotherhood.”

And what are they going to do with the extra money they raised?   They're passing it on The Jim Collins Foundation.  The Jim Collins Foundation run by Tony Ferraiolo and Dru Levasseur started it to collect donations and distribute funds for surgeries for transgender people who can’t afford them and need medical help. Basically, the more donations they get, the more donations they’re able to give out. It’s a lot like a scholarship, but instead of education funds, it’s medical and surgery funds.

 Here's Collins saying thank you to all of those who helped out and contributed to raise almost $20,000 as of last week.


Jersey Tom said...

Great post SK. Pretty amazing for these young folks to be so excepting. and kind.

Seaweed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seaweed said...

This was an incredible Out Spotlight in terms of the topic, and for the video expressions of love, acceptance, and appreciation.

I so love learning of things like this happening in our world.

Special K said...

I saw this story in Boston Magazine and I knew I had to do it as an Out Spotlight. It is great to see his brothers rally around him.

prairiegirl said...

Yeah, it really was great to see. Talk about true brotherhood. Wonderful, heartwarming story that you found, Special.

You know, backtracking to that cute, old picture of Atticus. I really like that picture, like the little kerchief on Atticus, the affectionate attention being lavished on him by his owner.

We haven't seen Atticus for quite awhile, but for the time he was being walked by Jake along with Gene Hong back in California.

Jake has taken him on locale before, so it wouldn't seem like travel would be the reason for Jake not to have him anymore. Which leads me to think that the kids could be the reason.

And isn't it funny weird how Jake's dogs just kind of disappear on him, lol. I've seen lots of stories (some very sad and traumatic) about other celebs losing their beloved pets, i.e. Jeremy Renner, Miley Cyrus, I think Alyssa Milano, Tom Hanks.

But Jake's dogs have just kind of mysteriously "disappeared" into thin air with never a mention as to what happened to them. And I have seen plenty of tweets by people about how Jake owns two dogs named Atticus & Boo Radley, so it's kind of well known by his fans. Doesn't it seem kind of intriguing that they're never brought up in interviews after Jake even had his puggle on Ellen's show, didn't he?

I don't know, it's just kind of interesting. I hope Atticus is still around and maybe Jake just had to give him up because of the children. Maybe Gene Hong has Atticus.

Sorry, it's just an obsessive thought I have once in awhile, whatever happened to Jake's dogs, lol.

destiny said...

What a great story in the Spotlight.

I suspect Jake's dad has atticus.

prairiegirl said...

That very well could be too, Destiny, that Jake's dad has him. If Atticus is still alive.

I have been corrected and that is that the last time Jake was seen with Atticus was when he was with Rashida Jones in early September 2011. That's practically 1 1/2 years.

Now what is interesting is that in the "public eye", Jake is seen as being single. He's single with no kids, as he has been quoted in black & white as saying. So as far as everyone is concerned, he is a single guy with his dog. It's just kind of strange that no interviewer asks him about Atticus, who was pictured so frequently with Jake. Yet they'll always ask him about being a father, does he want kids some day, blah blah.

Perhaps Atticus is one of those off limit questions because we know that Jake does have those. Seems kind of crazy, but why else does it seem no one has asked him about the furry other member of his household?

Jus' askin'.

prairiegirl said...

Something that would be interesting to look up would be when was the last time we saw little Boo? Allegedly, someone asked Jake about Boo and he said something to the effect that he no longer had him.

Was the last time we saw Boo just prior to or maybe just after BT1 was born? Because maybe that's why Boo disappeared. Maybe Boo wasn't baby friendly.