Friday, June 16, 2006

Stranded without a home

One of the reasons why gay people struggle for marriage equality rights is illustrated perfectly by the plight of writer Dennis Cooper, a celebrated gay author whose life partner is Yury, a Russian. If they were a straight couple, they could get married, come back home to L.A. and create a home together. No problem.

Unfortunately, as Dennis outlines in this heartbreaking blog entry, Yury had his entry visa to the US denied because it was denied once before (when he had applied for a student visa--most Russian student visas are routinely denied as "immigration risks"). Despite mountains of documentation, "letters of support for his character, proof that he easily had the finances to cover his schooling and time in the US, very strong support from the school he was going to attend, etc...
"But the interviewer who made the decision asked for his passport, looked him up in the computer, handed him back his passport, and said the visa was denied. She didn’t even look at the application, much less all the documents we had spent so long gathering. The visa was denied because he’d had a previous denial. That was it. She refused to give a specific reason, and at the American embassy in Moscow, there’s no requirement to give any reason at all. We were deeply shocked. I hired a lawyer to try to get the denial overturned, but the embassy refused."
They even, at one point, hired someone, at great expense, to grease the palms of officials higher up only to find out that the woman they hired was part of a criminal enterprise that routinely ripped off students and others like Dennis and Yury.

So, at this point, the two of them are living in Paris together but Yury is legally unable to work (and is therefore going stir crazy) and Dennis is forced to be away from his home in L.A. The injustice of the system for gay people leaves these two without much hope or opportunity. Dennis has sent out a desperate plea for anyone with any strings of any kind to help them.

It really infuriates me that any two straight people could go get married in two seconds. Problem solved. If they were a straight couple, they'd be home together making a life instead of being held in limbo. You can tell they are exhausted by the fight.
"I want to go home. It’s starting to eat me alive that I can’t go home. Obviously, I’m not going to go home, other than for short visits, without Yury. Our relationship is incredibly important to both of us. This is a great and deep love, and it isn’t an option to break up. It’s such a simple thing in theory, being able to live in your own country with the person you love. But in practice, in our case, it presents a terrible struggle and fight. But like I said, there is no choice."
Of course there's no choice. I thought of myself and Jimmy and how unimaginable it would be if we were placed in this position. I know how much we need each other because we tried separation once and it was horrible. Finding a soulmate and a life partner is a rare thing for anyone. He is my life and my other half and I cannot even think of life without him as long as he is breathing on this planet.

And this is not a rare case. I have another friend in Chicago who is in the same position. She and her life partner are fighting for their lives to keep her from being deported back to South Africa, where she was born. And, like Dennis and Yury, they are looking for every possible angle to work the system so they can be together.

This is why we fight for equality before the law. One of my religious opponents once told me that we gays were just being selfish and that we only wanted "gay marriage" because we had this secret "agenda" to get society to "approve" of our relationships. Well, you know what? Forgive me if this sounds rude, but I really don't care what straight people think of my relationship. I'm not with Jimmy in order to get approval from heterosexual bigots like the ones running the Southern Baptist Convention.

All we want is what everyone else has. Is that really too much to ask for?

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