Friends rally around NCLR's Minter after tornado damages Texas home

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Friday March 3, 2023
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A photo that Shannon Minter took March 2 after announcing his Texas home was struck by a tornado. Photo: Shannon Minter
A photo that Shannon Minter took March 2 after announcing his Texas home was struck by a tornado. Photo: Shannon Minter

Friends and colleagues of the National Center for Lesbian Rights' longtime legal director are rallying around him and his family after a tornado severely damaged their Texas home Thursday.

Shannon Minter, a trans man who has been pivotal in the San Francisco-based nonprofit agency's legal work on behalf of the LGBTQ community for decades, sent out a tweet March 2 that instantly garnered attention.

"Friends, I am sorry to share that our house just got hit by a tornado," Minter wrote. "All people & animals are okay, but we have a lot to figure out very quickly."

Minter wrote that he was just about to take the dogs for a walk when the tornado hit, and had no idea that one was approaching.

In a message to the Bay Area Reporter Friday morning, Minter said that his wife, Robin Minter, was in California at the time the tornado hit and was now in Dallas en route home. He added that the house is not habitable.

"It was severely damaged," he wrote.

Later Friday morning, Minter tweeted that he and his family were informed the house is totaled and cannot be repaired.

Longtime NCLR legal director Shannon Minter. Photo: Courtesy NCLR  

Minter and his wife care for a menagerie of cats and dogs, as the B.A.R. has previously reported. Most of them he has found abandoned in the rural part of Texas where the couple live. He documents the pets' lives on his popular Twitter feed.

Minter wrote in his message Friday morning that he stayed with the cats in a dry part of the house Thursday night. "That was harrowing," he added. "Have to get them to safety today somehow."

NCLR director of communications and spokesperson Christopher Vasquez said that agency staff are deeply concerned.

"Our hearts at NCLR go out to our legal director Shannon Minter, one of the most inspiring and passionate legal minds in the LGBTQ legal movement," Vasquez stated. "Right now our thoughts are with him, his wife Robin, and their expansive family of dogs and cats that have provided much-needed light and levity to Twitter through some particularly tough years."

Within hours of the news, one of Minter's friends started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds. Minter's friend, known by the Twitter handle Cee Eyes ("Dr. Strange PhD Cat Lackey"), noted the campaign quickly surpassed its initial $10,000 goal. Cee Eyes wrote that the goal likely would be adjusted upward as the "situation evolves and needs are assessed."

"Shannon Minter and his wife Robin have given a loving home to so many stray kitties and pups. Many of us know Shannon for his big heart, kind words, and boundless devotion," Cee Eyes wrote for the fundraiser. "Sadly, a tornado ripped apart the Minter home on March 2, 2023. Shannon and Robin have done so much for others — bringing light and joy to those who follow their Twitter adventures. Now it's time for us to do whatever we can as they begin to rebuild a safe home for the Minter Babies!

"When we first heard about the disaster, we posted the link to an ongoing, separate fundraiser before starting this one," Cee Eyes, an ally, added. "Both fundraisers are for Shannon, and no matter which you donate to, all the money raised will go directly to Shannon and his family. Bless all of you for your loving, generous hearts!"

Last October, another friend, Laura McNamara, started a GoFundMe to raise money to help the Minters care for their many animals. It is also active and has raised over $21,000.

Vasquez said NCLR was heartened to see the quick generous support for Minter and his family through messages and the GoFundMe campaigns.

"Shannon is one of bravest and resilient individuals we know and we are positive he will come out of this temporary setback stronger than ever, ready to continue fighting for our community," he added.

About a year and a half ago, Cee Eyes adopted Bobcat, one of the kittens Minter found in a field. Minter drove to New Mexico with Bobcat to make the handoff. Bobcat has since grown into a beautiful orange cat and has fit in perfectly with Cee Eyes' other felines, as they document on their Twitter feed.

Katharine Nyhus is another friend of Minter's who knows firsthand of his devotion to animals. Carl is a tuxedo cat that Minter found near his home last year. Nyhus adopted him and Minter flew to Southern California where Nyhus, an ally, lives to deliver the feisty feline. Carl joined Nyhus' other tuxedo cat, Ted Lasso, and the boys quickly bonded, as she has documented on Twitter.

"Shannon spends his life fighting for marginalized people and taking care of animals, most of which were abandoned," Nyhus wrote in a message to the B.A.R. "He's a beautiful soul."

Two of Shannon Minter's cats, Hayley Mills, left, and Sweetie, enjoyed a spot in the sun just hours before the tornado struck March 2. Photo: Shannon Minter  

In the immediate aftermath of the tornado, Minter wrote on Twitter that the four dogs — Onyx, Gaia, Albert, and Sister — were staying with a friend nearby. Minter remained in the home with the 10 cats — Beulah, Piper, Squeaky, Furby, Meow Meow, Pip Squeak, Loretta, Sweetie, Hayley Mills, and William. He wrote early Friday morning that he was in his car charging his phone.

"I'm with the cats in the small part of house that's still dry & intact," he wrote. "Please do pray for us. Still pouring rain & more wind expected."

Updated, 3/3/23: This article has been updated with comments from NCLR and an update from Shannon Minter indicating the house is a total loss.

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