No announcement yet.

gay immigrants

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #16
    Wednesday, 30 October 2002

    CARSON CITY, Nv. -- A new statewide poll of likely voters in Nevada finds that a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage has the support of more than half of the state's voters and is virtually certain to pass.

    Question 2, which would place Nevada's existing definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman in the state constitution, had 60% of those polled in support, 36% opposed and 4% undecided.

    This is the second time Question 2 will appear on the ballot, and it will become part of the constitution if voters support it in the general election. It passed in 2000 with nearly 70% of the vote.

    Richard Schlegel, executive director of Equal Rights Nevada, a group opposed to the question, said he is pleased by the increasing level of opposition. Question 2 is unnecessary and divisive, he said. "We've made some progress with the voters," Schlegel said. "The results are encouraging."

    The group is set to start a radio campaign this week in both Las Vegas and Reno to educate voters on why they should vote against the proposal, he said.


    • #17
      nevadaparadise LOL -- instead of going forwards, you know, we go...backwards, oh well,


      • #18
        lets keep our fingers crossed for the democrats...
        if they win, that would help !!


        • #19
          Well, Clinton was a democrat, said would give gay couples the legal right to marry, nada...said would make the military accept open gays, nada...they smell the same thing, ya know...


          • #20
            Exactly flamboyant!


            • #21
              "I decided to come to America," Christopher said, "because of the rejection of my father. My family really is very close, but my father... said to me, 'Go away to America, because I think that's the place where you can live the way you are and I'm pretty sure you're never going to have any problem there.' And besides he was afraid what friends can say, even the family. My uncles always rejected being homosexual, was like a crime to them. That's why I came to America.... I left Spain almost 11 years already and until now he never talked to me, or letters, nothing, you know, no communication."

              This was how a Spanish immigrant (whom the author calls Christopher) began the conversation. The author was speaking with him because he wanted to learn about how cultural identity and sexual identity interweave in the experience of gay immigrants.

              This project was motivated by Foucault's argument that homosexual identities emerged in Northwestern Europe and the United States in the late 19th century. Homosexual identities, which define homoerotic desires and behaviors as constitutive of a type of person, are culturally and historically generated. What happens, then, author asked, when different constructions intersect, when different discourses overlap? Immigrants are an obvious place to look for people who participate in more than one culture. Of course, in the modern world it is inappropriate to think of one culture as isolated from another, unaffected by the ideas and technologies of a "different" culture. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to look critically at the paths of those ideas and technologies. Author's interest is in the experience of self-identified gay people, both gay men and lesbians, who have moved to the United States.

              It is difficult to conceptualize the specific role of the United States in this thing called "homosexuality" without falling into some form of American exceptionalism. Nevertheless, much evidence suggests that the United States has played a disproportionate role in the global evolution and dissemination of homosexual identity. As Dennis Altman, an Australian sociologist, wrote:

              My discovery of homosexuality went hand in hand with my discovery of America.... The United States occupies a special place in the imagination and fantasies of lesbians and gay men around the world. Castro Street, West Hollywood, and Fire Island (and, for women, the Michigan Women's Music Festival, as well) are for us what Berlin and Paris were for American homosexuals between the wars. Our fashion, music, and books come largely from the United States. So does much of our media; around the world, thousands of homosexuals have learned to be gay from American culture.

              In other words, many people have learned to interpret homosexual feelings as a sign that they belong to a cultural group, known as gay, which is both American and international. Both Altman and John D'Emilio have talked about the importance of economic structures in enabling a "gay lifestyle" - such factors as the basic economic unit increasingly being the individual rather than the family, and a consumer capitalism that relies on the identification and pursuit of pleasure. While these economic factors are shared by many Western European countries, in the United States, traditions of cultural heterogeneity, interest group politics, and a civil rights approach to minorities have specifically fostered the development of a gay subculture. The result is that, while cities like Sydney and Amsterdam, Berlin and London, have thriving gay communities of their own, the gay subculture of the United States has been most prolific both in its own elaboration and institutionalization and in its creation of cultural forms that have spread to other parts of the world.

              Thus gay people, by identifying as gay, participate in a cultural construction that itself crosses cultural boundaries as traditionally understood. In Mexico, self-identified homosexual people are called internacionals. In Taiwan, the term tong shih lien, meaning "same sex love," was adopted from the West and has completely displaced Chinese words that were previously used to discuss same-sex behaviors. In Russia, female partners call each other "girlfriend." As Masha Gessen explained to another interviewer:

              There are Russian words for gay men - goluboi [light blue], pedik [an abbreviated form of pederast]. There are no words for women outside the labor-camp context. So it is easier to use a foreign word, such as "girlfriend." I don't mean easier; I mean that there are no other words. Not only do we have no words with which to identify ourselves, we also have no other signals, no outward appearances. So we appropriate the lesbian culture of the West, where you have already developed the vocabulary.

              These words, signals, ideas, appearances, and identities can travel in many ways. Written autobiographical accounts often mention books, movies, or scholarly journals. The impact of gay male tourism is enormous in certain Third World cities. To the extent that US-styled words, images, and ideas are available in countries with different traditions of sexuality, people growing up and experiencing same-sex desires develop their self-conceptualizations in the context of sexual discourses that derive from at least two different cultures.

              Estimating proportions of gay immigrants is impossible. People who experience strong same-sex attractions may be more likely than others to migrate. Alienation from family and family-based traditions may make it easier for them to leave home, while the perception that homosexuality is more acceptable elsewhere may be a strong motivation. Clearly it was in Christopher's case. In the small number of oral interviews and written accounts that the author has been able to locate, about a quarter of self-identified gay immigrants migrated specifically because they were gay. On top of the other economic, political, and social reasons that people choose to migrate, this indicates that gay people may be disproportionately represented in the immigrant pool.

              On the other hand, the same alienation from family may exclude gays from patterns of chain migration and family-based economic migration. And until October 1990 it was illegal for homosexual people to immigrate to the United States. In 1990 homosexuality was removed from the list of excludable conditions, but people who entered before then may still face deportation under the retroactive premise that they were excludable at time of entry. There is enormous legal confusion on this issue. One respondent assured author that it is mistaken about the law, while another said that "every place we called" in 1991 told her that homosexual people were still excluded. Though the law has always been erratically enforced, it has resulted in the exclusion, deportation, and quite possibly discouragement of many potential immigrants. Nevertheless, an assumption of heterosexuality must misrepresent the experience of a significant number of immigrants.

              Author personally interviewed four gay immigrants, plus the American-born lover of a fifth who did not want to be identified. Three of the respondents were men, from Peru, Spain, and Taiwan. One woman was from Ireland, and the other's lover was from the then-Soviet Union. These interviews were very difficult to arrange. Many potential respondents were fearful and refused to be interviewed even though were promised anonymity. An immigration lawyer told author that gay immigrants would be "foolish" to let be interviewed them because of the risk of deportation. Many native-born as well as immigrant gays fear losing their jobs, losing their friends, and/or physical violence if they are discovered to be gay.

              When author first met José, he showed him two little Guatemalan dolls that he had just bought for his American lover. He explained how you tell the dolls your worries, put them in a little decorated bag, and put them under your pillow at night so that those worries will be taken away. When interviewed, José was a 20-year-old who had immigrated 3 years before from Peru with his mother. By showing those dolls first thing, he affirmed both his relationship with his male lover here and his connection with a pan-Hispanic cultural identity.

              As a child and teenager in Lima, José was constantly teased for doing "girly" things. Other boys would change his name into its feminine form, verbally "abuse" him, and assert their dominance over him: "they will treat me like a woman... like they will call me their woman - oh, he's mine - they're playing, like showing off." He was called hermaphrodite, homosexual, maricon, and eventually accepted the teasing as "a part of growing up being gay." Although he didn't tell people that he considered himself gay, he believed it was an open secret among his friends. It was important to keep the secret, however, since homosexuality was considered a sickness. As is common in Hispanic cultures, the boys who flirted with José weren't considered homosexual, since they appeared masculine, but a man who accepted a masculine man's affections would bring shame upon the family. José was delighted when his mother decided to move to the US. He believed that Europeans and North Americans didn't care if a person was gay, a belief that he attributes to the openness of gay male tourists. He therefore thought that this would be a better place to come out. Anti-gay violence soon convinced him otherwise. In Lima other kids teased him but accepted him as a character, and adults thought of him as sick but tolerated him. "But here it's different. It's hate when you begin and hate until you die."

              When, however, José was asked how he thought being an immigrant has affected his experience as a gay man, he firmly rejected his cultural background:

              It did up to a point, where I say to myself, "Maybe I'm sick, maybe I can take something, maybe I can cure myself." And then I came out. I met... all these different people, and, you know, there's a whole different life, so that was erased... from my head. And I was like, being gay is good after all!... I haven't gone back to my roots, Hispanic roots, that if you're gay you're sick and you have to go to church... and you have to pray to the saints and pray to God for forgiveness... and go to confession every weekend and tell them what you do. And if you're gay you can be gay but you're not supposed to have sex.... I just don't let that kind of thinking rule my life.

              José's social life centers around Boston's gay community, and he has no desire to have Hispanic friends. On the other hand, he sometimes feels uncomfortable with how much he has had to leave behind his past. He feels he can't tell stories from Lima, that people aren't interested. "Sometimes," he says, "I feel like I am betraying my own society just to fit into the gay society here."

              Christopher, the man whose father sent him from Spain to the US, was finishing his doctoral degree when spoken. He had been involved with a priest for several years in high school. When the relationship was discovered, Christopher agreed with his father that he should leave the country. "He wants to protect me... He said, 'If you stay here your family is going to kill you.'" But like José, Christopher was disappointed by the US.

              In this country, they tell me, you don't have to suffer because you are gay. It's more acceptable. But I found that's not true. I think gay life in Europe is more open.... But this country is so narrow and is full of problems. Gay life is not that easy. When asked if the greater openness in Europe ever makes him think of moving there, however, he answered with an emphatic negative.

              America is not just gay life. It's a lot of other things besides. And I am not here because I am gay, not because that. I am here because I like the country very much and I've been successful here.... And the opportunities are here and nowhere else.... I'd never change this country for any other country in the world.

              Thus although Christopher originally did come to the US very much because he was gay, he has since reinterpreted his presence here in economic and professional terms. He stays not because he thinks this is the best place to be a gay man, but because he has work he enjoys and finds deeply satisfying.

              Todd came from Taiwan when he was 13. He already knew that he was attracted to other boys, but did not think of himself as gay. He explains that homosexuality is almost invisible in Taiwan both because of Confucian teachings about the importance of family and because of the lack of a civil rights approach to minorities. On the other hand, he believes that Chinese culture was historically tolerant of homosexual behavior, as long as one did not reject family responsibilities for a non-reproductive lifestyle. These cultural expectations discourage the development of an identifiable gay minority or gay identity, although a furtive gay male subculture does now exist.

              Todd feels that his lack of cultural peers in this country slowed his development of a gay identity. Being an immigrant, even though I had some friends, I always felt like an outsider because so large a part of my life was Chinese.... So I think it just delayed my coming out because I didn't have a role model and I didn't have other people in similar situations.

              In college, Todd worried that the fact that he was attracted only to white American men meant that he had renounced his own ethnicity and heritage. Not until he visited Taiwan, and met gay men there, did he feel comfortable with his position here. A gay social life is very important to him, but he no longer feels a need to know other gay immigrants.

              Elizabeth came from Ireland at age 33, eight years before interviewed. She decided to leave Ireland because of a combination of a personal crisis and a long-standing anger at her country's views of women's roles and sexuality. Part, but not all, of the crisis was realizing that she was lesbian.

              I came face to face with the fact that I really was someone who was interested in women.... And the culture where I was living, it was too difficult... to be involved with somebody, to be so secretive about it.... There are very few outlets in my country for lesbians.... So for all of those things, a terrible dissatisfaction with myself, a dissatisfaction with the political socio-economic climate, and just wanting to leave what I often call "the valley of the squinting windows"... I just felt it was time to move.

              As an illegal immigrant, Elizabeth was unable to get steady employment. She worked as a waitress, bartender, and domestic worker. She put aside everything she associated with being a lesbian in order, first, to survive economically, then to cope with the alcoholism that she sees as a reaction to being illegal and desperately lonely.

              She says:

              I put it in a box.... I just put away the lesbian and I just started being an immigrant, and the result of being an immigrant was drink.

              Four years after she arrived she joined AA, two years later she got a green card, and in the interview she expressed a twin goal of finding a job she will really enjoy and becoming more active in the American gay community. Having the courage to be openly lesbian, and to link that identity with feminist political activity, is to her part of what it means to be successful as an American.

              Natasha came to the US on a visitor's visa with the intention of marrying a man she had met in Moscow. Once they were married, he made a sexual slave of her, advertising her services and collecting payment. When she met Julie, she could speak almost no English and felt completely powerless. At the time that interviewed Julie, they were living together and trying to find a way to keep Natasha in the country, since an immigrant spouse is only allowed to get a permanent green card if the marriage lasts two years. This is why Natasha refused to let see her.

              According to Julie, Natasha had been involved with both women and men when she lived in Russia, but she didn't think of this as implying anything about her identity. Nothing suggested to her that she had to make a choice between women and men. It was only after she came to the US that she began to see herself as lesbian. There are obviously many factors involved in this story. But it exemplifies how vulnerable an immigrant can be. The threat of deportation back to a disintegrating Soviet Union where Natasha had already been a victim of police brutality was a very effective means of coercion. If Julie were male, or if same-sex marriages were recognized in the US, then Natasha could divorce and remarry and legally remain in the country. At it is, her future is uncertain, but it seems likely that at some point she will be deported.

              There is very little published scholarship on gay immigrants, but what there is suggests that gay identity may speed the process of acclimating to a new country. Bob Tremble, Margaret Schneider, and Carol Appathurai studied gay youth in immigrant communities in Toronto and found that everyone involved usually saw an emerging gay identity as a direct attack on an adolescent's cultural loyalties. Many immigrant families were unable to accept their gay offspring, and rejected them as contaminated by a foreign culture. Other parents were eventually able to come to terms with their children's homosexuality. Even when gay youth were accepted by their immediate families, however, they usually remained alienated from the ethnic community. The authors explained, "In spite of the cultural pride which several expressed, they felt removed from their culture. They usually excluded themselves from cultural activities in order to avoid shaming the family in front of friends". The search for gay peers leads to a more rapid and thorough assimilation than that of their heterosexual siblings. Another study, by Lourdes Argulles and B. Ruby Rich, explored the self-images and social circles of 16 Cuban lesbian immigrants and concluded that on a practical level it was usually impossible to combine Hispanic and lesbian identities in a coherent social life. Given the forced choice, most women felt more comfortable among other lesbians. "Most of the respondents, although regretting their decision, choose behaviorally to be among Anglo lesbians rather than among straight Latinos". Respondents also tended to seek friends in an American gay community and to feel distanced from their own cultures and their own families because they are gay.

              It is difficult to draw conclusions about the experiences of gay immigrants as a whole. A huge amount of cultural and familial and personal variation will affect the experience of any individual. Perhaps it is audacious to try to treat the topic of gay immigrants as a group. A more careful study might focus on gay immigrants from a single country, or at least a single continent, and certainly might separate women and men.

              Self-identified gay people participate in a cultural construction that itself crosses cultural boundaries. Gay immigrants share many concerns with all immigrants: economic and professional mobility, finding an appropriate balance between cultural loyalty and adapting to a new country, re-creating a full life after an enormous change. Each of these factors intersects with a cluster of meanings around family, gender, and sexuality. For gay immigrants, therefore, life in the US is pervasively affected by their experience of same-sex attractions and their ongoing interpretations of that experience. As José said:

              It's not like it's apart. It's like everything is together, and everything is a package of one thing - one person, me. It's not like I'm gay only or I'm Peruvian only. It's always together and it makes me. So if you meet me you meet the gay part of me and the Peruvian part of me and all other parts of me.


              • #22
                Wow, very interesting article!


                • #23
                  I "liked" more the post by Bordetella.


                  • #24
                    For internationally acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller writing is not only a vehicle for self-exploration but also a tool for transforming society. Known for its humor, passion and nudity, Miller's performance art examines the intricacies and difficulties of life as a gay man in America today. In 1990 Miller was awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Solo Performer Fellowship; but after the Bush administration objected to the gay themes in Miller's work, the grant was overturned. Miller went on to make history as one of the "NEA Four," a group of four artists who, with the help of the ACLU, successfully sued the government for violating their First Amendment rights. Even though the Supreme Court overturned part of Miller's case last year and ruled that standards of decency could be used as criteria for federal funding for the arts, Miller is continuing to fight for freedom of expression.

                    On stage Miller bares his soul to the audience as he delves deeply into his own experiences and claims a place for himself as a gay man in an often unfriendly world. In past pieces such as Naked Breath, Fruit Cocktail, and Shirts & Skin, based on his book of the same name, Miller has unabashedly addressed such issues as AIDS, sex and coming out. But in his newest piece, entitled Glory Box, Miller tackles an issue which he thinks will be new to the majority of his audiences: his experiences as a member of a same-sex binational couple. "This issue is clearly not on gay people's radar screens," said Miller. "It is a specific issue and not one that most people are involved in unless they know someone."

                    Miller's experience with gay immigration issues began in 1994 when he was teaching at a gay men's performance workshop in London. There Miller met Alistair McCartney, an Australian writer who had recently moved to Britain. "We met, sparks flew and the connection happened," recalled Miller. "Since I was working in the UK a number of times in 1994 we were able to see each other over the course of the next year and we fell in love." A year later McCartney moved to Los Angeles with Miller but McCartney's temporary visa soon brought immigration problems. "In the end I decided to kill two birds with one stone and return to school," said McCartney. "I entered the MFA program at Antioch and got my student visa which gave us a greater sense of security. I like school and it has turned out to be good for my writing but I probably would not have gone back had the situation been different."

                    Even though the student visa solved the couple's immigration problem temporarily, both Miller and McCartney remain frustrated with their lack of options. "School has been a good move for Alistair but he really had no choice," said Miller. "On top of the usual difficulties of two people in a relationship we have had the expense of his being in school and having to maintain the visa. And now, in spite of the fact that we have had a five year relationship, the clock is ticking. What do we do when the visa runs out in a little over a year?"

                    Since there is no way for Miller to bring McCartney into the country as his partner under current US immigration law, the two are now facing the possibility of having to leave America to remain together. McCartney is an Australian and his father is Scottish, giving McCartney dual British and Australian citizenship. In both Britain and Australia there would be a possibility for Miller to immigrate as McCartney's domestic partner. Canada with its more lenient gay immigration policy is also a possibility for Miller and McCartney. But with their lives and careers established in the US the prospect of having to relocate is highly unappealing. "I know we can do it if we have to," said Miller. "I am quite visible and I regularly perform and teach in Canada, Britain and Australia. However, I make the vast amount of my income in North America. Moving would mean being exiled from my livelihood. But barring some sort of quick change in policy or having Alistair successfully go through the tricky process of getting an exceptional skills visa for his freelance writing, we may have to leave the country."

                    Out of Miller's frustration and confusion with this dilemma and his desire to educate people about the fact that gay and lesbian couple's lack the same immigration rights which heterosexual couple's enjoy, Glory Box was born. "I'm a giant drama queen and my agenda is to make a giant fuss and draw attention to the issue," explained Miller. "I made Glory Box because I don't know what else to do. In the same way that I agitated around HIV/AIDS as an artist, I intend to get the word out." Miller's performance takes the audience on a humorous, **** and intense exploration of gay marriage, love, and the battle for gay and lesbian equality under immigration law.

                    Since the performance deals with an issue so deeply personal, both Miller and McCartney hope it will have an impact on all people. As Miller puts it, "we must pull the curtain back on this issue and make people realize that lesbians and gays lack equal rights in this country. I am showing them how the law interferes with this intimate part of my life." McCartney echoes these sentiments: "when Tim brings up the topic most people say that they were not aware of it before. It is great that art has the power to bring so much change." Whether the piece provides the immediate solution to their personal immigration problems remains to be seen. We can be sure, however, that by opening people's eyes to the problem, Glory Box will help to bring us one step closer to equality.




                    • #25


                      • #26
                        Happy Thanksgiving to all gay Americans and immigrants!


                        • #27
                          happy thanksgiving to u all, lets keep our chins up.
                          thank you for all your testimonys, we are not alone.


                          • #28
                            Merry Christmas & Happy New Year To Gay Immigrants!


                            • #29
                              Happy New Year to gay people as well!


                              • #30
                                Happy New Year!


                                Sorry, you are not authorized to view this page

                                Home Page

                                Immigration Daily


                                Processing times

                                Immigration forms

                                Discussion board



                                Twitter feed

                                Immigrant Nation


                                CLE Workshops

                                Immigration books

                                Advertise on ILW



                                About ILW.COM

                                Connect to us



                                Immigration Daily