Archive for November, 2009

My Favorite Poem

Posted on November 27, 2009. Filed under: Collective Wisdom |

The following is a something from one or my favorite Sci-Fi shows. I’ve changed it a bit to make it apply here on earth.

 The world speaks in many languages but only one voice. The language is not Spanish, English, Japanese, Russian or any other verbal communication. It speaks in the language of hope.

It speaks in the language of trust. It speaks in the language of strength and compassion. It is the language of the heart, the language of the soul but always it is the same voice, the voice of our ancestors speaking through us and the voice of our in heritors waiting to be born.

It is the small still voice that says “We are one.” No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the culture, “We are one.” No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear, “We are one.” Here gathered together in common cause.

As we recognize this singular truth and this singular rule, we must be kind to one another because each voice enriches us and ennobles us. Each voice lost demises us. We are the voice of humanity, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. “We are one.”

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Dee and Magdalena

Posted on November 24, 2009. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

Dee (U.S.) & Magdalena (Mexico)

This story is located at:

Being in a committed and co-habitating relationship with the person I love will soon turn out to be a real test of endurance when immigration officials start to meddle, because I do not have the right to sponsor my partner.

My partner was petitioned by her mother under the “family reunification” category of US immigration law but because her mother passed away before the issuance of the green card, the petition died along with the petitioner.

Now I am told the mother was “family” and I am not, that there is no way that I can petition her because we are not “straight” fiancés or married! Worst of all my partner has been advised by many people to marry a man for immigration benefits! We do not have the intention for such a deception!

My life partner will be forced to return to her homeland since there is no other hope.


 This story is located at:

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Cynthia and Natalia

Posted on November 24, 2009. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

Cynthia & Natalia (Colombia)

This is located at:

I met my partner in 2001 and began our relationship then. From the beginning we fell in love with each other.

The impact of not having the right to stay together here in the U.S. reverberates at every level of our lives. It puts our relationship under incredible stress everyday. Every day there is something that reminds us. She can’t get an ID or Social Security card so we can’t even go out for dinner and have a drink without her feeling bad because we are reminded when she has to use her passport.

Most importantly, I have to see the person I love suffocating because she can’t live, work, or even go to school freely and I am impotent to do anything about it.

The most incredible thing is that this happens in my own country, the United States!

I have to watch the person that I love suffer because she is with me and there is nothing I can do to help or ease this pain.

I live in fear that she will get tired or get sent back to a place that is not home anymore. We can’t plan because we never know what will happen in the future.

To see her overcome her difficulties gave me strength to pull myself together. At 31 years old, I went back to school for my M.A. degree and then continued for my Ph.D. to become a college professor.

We have refused to live a lie by having her marry someone else or attempt other avenues for getting her legal status.

If no options for her legal status are available, we will be forced to leave the country.

I am astonished that this “great” country can not do such a simple thing in order to retain such highly trained and committed Americans that have so much to contribute to this society — just because of who we love.

 This is located at:

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Christine and Jessica

Posted on November 15, 2009. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

Christine (U.S.) & Jessica (Luxembourg)

This story is located at:

I was introduced to Christine over the internet by a mutual friend of ours in the summer of 2001. At the time I was living on my own in Europe, after recently having come out to my family. Under these circumstances, what I needed most was someone who could understand what I was going through, someone who would listen, someone to support me. I remember clearly the first time I ever heard Christine’s voice. It was past three o’clock at night when my mother rushed me out of bed, telling me I had a long distance phone call from the United States. We didn’t get to talk very much that night, as my mother was standing by keeping a watchful eye on me. And yet the sound of Christine’s voice was enough to keep me awake the rest of the night.

A couple of months and several hundred minutes of late night phone conversation later, we were in love. Despite our busy schedules we found time to plan to meet half way, in New York City, for Christmas. We were lost in dreams about ice-skating and Christmas shopping together when 9-11 happened. Although I knew that Christine was in California, far away from all danger, I was filled with worries for her well-being. So I invented a story about a relative needing my instant help in the United States and took the first flight available to LAX.

Since then, Christine and I have lived together, have adopted three cats and have become every bit as committed as a married couple. I enrolled in law school, and we bought a house together.

The safe little world we had created for each other in Christine’s country, the United States, fell apart when the renewal of my student visa application was denied.

We were forced to leave the U.S., which for Christine meant giving up her successful career in law enforcement.

Although we found a country that welcomed us, Christine should not have been forced to leave her country, the land whose motto is “justice for all.” Do politicians in the U.S. even understand how traumatizing such move can be? Leaving everything behind and start-ing your life all over again just because your own country denies you the simple right to live there with your foreign partner who happens to be of the same sex?

Christine still gets extremely bitter when this issue comes up. This is why she had asked me to write our story.

 This story is located at:

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Bob and Orlando

Posted on November 15, 2009. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

Bob (U.S.) & Orlando (Guatemala)

This story is located at:

The travail that Orlando and I had to go through was excruciating because our alternatives to him NOT getting asylum were (1) to fight it, which our lawyer said would end up putting us into bankruptcy and (2) if all else failed for both of us to leave the country and make a life somewhere else.

Orlando and I, at the time, had been together for more than 14 years.

Nevertheless, during those years we felt like fugitives because we never knew when the INS would call us in. When the dreadful letter appeared in the mail we both went into a depression. For Orlando, who is a shy man, the specter of being in front of an INS officer was very scary. Finally, we did appear and we were required to wait two weeks for the decision. Those two weeks were some of the most difficult we have ever endured.

The thought of uprooting ourselves was horrendous. I was angry because I would possibly have to leave my own country.

I felt like a second rate citizen. One of my best friends married a woman from Indonesia and he had no problem bringing her here legally. But for me I was not given the same right as straight Americans.

On our minds was losing the house, possibly all of our money, leaving the country and leaving our family and friends.

I don’t believe that any American should have to go through this!

I don’t think I have given service to the pain we went through; not to speak of the sleepless nights and the money we had spent to simply keep him here.

In the end we won and the nightmare was finally over.

 This story is located at:

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Blake and Peter

Posted on November 15, 2009. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

Blake (U.S.) & Peter (Poland)

 This story can be found at:

Our story is no different than thousands of cases you read about every day.

Eight months ago I met my current boyfriend and we instantly fell in love. The world has changed overnight for the both of us. We were thinking about getting married in the US so we can start our life together in a country we both love almost as much as we love ourselves. But then we found out that unfortunately,this is not the case. We were both pretty much devastated. You can imagine why.

I’m not concerned that much about us. I know we’re strong. If there’s no way for us to live here, we’ll choose to live somewhere else, where we’re actually accepted.

It’s the whole idea that concerns us. The idea, that our life is somehow less important than the love of my parents, or his, or yours. That it’s not significant enough. It’s like it’s a love of a different kind. Worst kind.

And it scares us, because we seem to be all about loving, caring and sharing. We like to demonstrate it loudly and proudly. And suddenly it appears that we have absolutely NOTHING to be proud of.

 This story can be found at:

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Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative/Story

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Resources |

Purpose and Audience –
Personal narratives allow you to share your life with others and vicariously experience the things that happen around you. Your job as a writer is to put the reader in the midst of the action letting him or her live through an experience. Although a great deal of writing has a thesis, stories are different. A good story creates a dramatic effect, makes us laugh, gives us pleasurable fright, and/or gets us on the edge of our seats. A story has done its job if we can say, “Yes, that captures what living with my father feels like,” or “Yes, that’s what being cut from the football team felt like.”

Structure –
There are a variety of ways to structure your narrative story. The three most common structures are: chronological approach, flashback sequence, and reflective mode. Select one that best fits the story you are telling.

Methods –
Show, Don’t’ Tell: Don’t tell the reader what he or she is supposed to think or feel. Let the reader see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the experience directly, and let the sensory experiences lead him or her to your intended thought or feeling. Showing is harder than telling. It’s easier to say, “It was incredibly funny,” than to write something that is incredibly funny. The rule of “show, don’t tell” means that your job as a storyteller is not to interpret; it’s to select revealing details. You’re a sifter, not an explainer. An easy way to accomplish showing and not telling is to avoid the use of “to be” verbs.

Let People Talk –
It’s amazing how much we learn about people from what they say. One way to achieve this is through carefully constructed dialogue. Work to create dialogue that allows the characters’ personalities and voices to emerge through unique word selection and the use of active rather than passive voice.

Choose a Point of View –
Point of view is the perspective from which your story is told. It encompasses where you are in time, how much you view the experience emotionally (your tone), and how much you allow yourself into the minds of the characters. Most personal narratives are told from the first-person limited point of view. If you venture to experiment with other points of view, you may want to discuss them with Miss Burke as you plan your piece.

Tense –
Tense is determined by the structure you select for your narrative. Consider how present vs. past tense might influence your message and the overall tone of your piece.

Tone –
The tone of your narrative should set up an overall feeling. Look over the subject that you are presenting and think of what you are trying to get across. How do you want your audience to feel when they finish your piece? Careful word choice can help achieve the appropriate effect.

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Questions for Prompting a Story

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Resources |

Basic bio information
When / where were you born?
What is your ethnic background?
Where have you lived?
What occupation(s) have you worked in?
When did you come to the US (Western Culture)?

Coming out
When were you first aware of sexual identity? How did that happen?
How do you define coming out?
to self
to other gay people
to your family
to straight people (how and when did you first tell them?)
What influenced your coming out?

Family background / growing up
When / where did you grow up?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Do you remember what inspired those dreams?
Any early signs about later orientation? (being a tomboy, playing w. kids of opposite sex, preferring opposite sex games and activities)
Acceptance/rejection of these activities, or of emerging expressions of identity, by family members?

When did you decide to immigrate?
What made you want immigrate?
What were the biggest cultural differences you noticed?
What were your expectations of being an immigrant?
What was you biggest learning moment as an immigrant?
What would you like to share with others about being an immigrant?

Did it make a difference? how?
Social acceptance/rejection within gay community (re race)? — within one’s ethnic community (re sexual orientation)?
Interracial relationships or friendships? If yes, what did you learn from that Experience, or from people you knew? What were the attitudes of others you knew to such relationships?
Did being part of the GLBT community bring you in contact with people of different ethnic backgrounds? How did that affect your circumstances and/or outlook?
Religion / spiritual learnings
Did your religion/spiritual learnings make a difference? how?
— family background? own (personal)?
— can you identify sources or other influences of your beliefs?
— changes/evolution of personal beliefs; relation to sexuality?
— membership in GLBT religious/spiritual groups or organizations?
— what aspects of one’s religious background carried over into one’s life as a gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgendered person? what aspects changed, and to what extent?
Class / economic background
Were your circumstances comfortable when growing up, or not?
— opportunities available (for education, work, career)? did you feel these to be limited or not?
— effects of any of this on personal outlook?
— did your circumstances change as you got older? how? what were the causes?
— were class issues important in your political views and/or activities?
— did being part of the GLBT community bring you in contact with people of different class backgrounds? how did that affect your circumstances and/or outlook?
— to what level? where? when?
— Were there opportunities to meet other GLBT people in educational settings? college or school organizations?
— Did some departments or subjects have a reputation for attracting GLBT students or faculty? Which ones? In your opinion, was this true?
— Did fellow students discuss homosexuality? In your opinion, was their information correct? Did you learn from it?
Social life
What were the clues to find/identify other that were LGBT?
— dress?
— language? body language?
— other?
How did you meet other GLBT people at first? Did this change over time?
Where did you meet others (bars, meeting halls, music venues, halls in supportive churches, etc.)?
Did single people and couples socialize differently?
Were there private social networks or organizations? If so, were these urban-based? (Were there opportunities for gay or lesbian social life in suburban or rural areas?)
Were there class- or race-specific groups or subcultures?
— mixed gender groups or friendships?
— friendships / social contact between lesbians and gay men?
— lesbians or straight women who hung out with gay men: what were these friendships like?

Were you out at work? What were the results?
Were there opportunities to meet kindred spirits at work?
Relationship history
— marriage? (het or gay)
— long term relationships?
— if yes, a result of previous straight relationships, or within gay/lesbian community?
— how do you think your identity affected them?
Major historical events in your lifetime
Examples: WWII, McCarthy era, Civil Rights movement, JFK/MLK assassinations, Vietnam war, hippie era, Stonewall, etc.
— How old were you during these times? Which ones were significant to you, and why?
Political movements / activism
— what were the political values you grew up with? (family’s, peer group’s, etc.)
— political activism/causes before gay involvement? which ones?
— influences of other movements (non-violence, anti-war, Civil Rights, hippie counterculture, etc.) on your political values?
— involvement in GLBT political activism? which ones?
— how did political thinking/climate affect your involvement in or support of gay rights?
Role models
— when young? older?
— personal acquaintances? teachers/adults? or famous people?
General feelings about identity/orientation
Did you ever feel depressed about it? limited? special? enlightened? etc.
Have you ever felt threatened? Ever been in physical danger?
What things have made you feel proud?
What things made you laugh? Can you recall specific examples of gay/lesbian/drag humor, parodies, send-ups? Pranks? In-jokes? Fooling or getting back at straight people?
Stories from elders
When you first came out, did you hear older members of the community talk about what times were like in their youth? Do you remember specific stories?
Unwritten codes of conduct
— When you first came out, did you get any advice from “elders”, or from anyone else “in the life,” on how to act or how to be?
— When you first came out, did you meet others you knew right off that you wanted to emulate? That impressed you strongly? Why? What was it about them that made you feel that way?
— social taboos? / no-nos? (What was not cool?)
— who was especially or generally admired? for what reasons? if some were unpopular, for what reasons?
— did you or friends act / feel differently when in one another’s company, as opposed to being with straight people? if yes, explain the differences
— what role models did popular culture provide for gays/lesbians? (ex. bikers, movie personalities, others?)

Experience with / knowledge of subcommunities within gay culture
— drag (Are you familiar with “drag queen honor”? Can you provide examples?)
— “women’s community” (1970s+)
— separatism
— political or intentional communities / collective houses / land trusts and collectives
— leather/S&M
— others

Try to identify the times and places of stories or incidents that have been discussed, for example, by relating them to approximate time periods or historical events (“before the war,” “the 70s,” etc.)
Summing up
— Other topics that you want to cover?
— If you could live life over, is there anything you would do differently?
— Significant changes you’ve witnessed over time?
— What would you say to young GLBT people today, or to those who will come along in the future?

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Story of JG.

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Stories |

JG. Wrote:
I was borne and raised in an ultra conservative Catholic country town in Panama, Latin America by my maternal grandparents. Although, Panama City, Panama is one of the most liberal cities in Central America, the same thing cannot be said about the small town where I was raised. Growing up gay in a highly homophobic family, school, and society made the process of coming to terms with my sexuality an extreme journey. By the time I was 17 years old I had already come out as a gay young man to my closest friends, who were more supportive than I would have ever imagined.

At the ripe age of 17 I was finally done with high school. I could not have been happier when presented with the opportunity to come the United States for college. Most information about American culture had come to me through movies and TV shows, so I could not wait to move to a country that, in my teenage mind, was all like New York City. I had so many choices, so many cities, so many states, so many schools where I could go! This is why I decided to move to Knoxville, Tennessee. I was quite shocked when I arrived in Knoxville. It did not look like New York City at all!

You might want to know why I chose Knoxville of all places. Well, the answer would have been a very simple one coming from a 17 year old. I did not want to go up north because I did not want to deal with the cold. I did not want to go down south because I thought there would be too many Spanish speakers, and I wanted to force myself to speak only English. I did not want to go too far west because I thought it would be too far from Panama. So I looked at the US map and thought Tennessee seemed just fine right there in the middle.

Being a Hispanic gay immigrant in Knoxville, Tennessee was not as bad as you are thinking. I was so culturally ignorant and young that I did not even notice how different I was from everyone else. Also, I moved to Knoxville in January 2002, and I was completely oblivious to the anti-immigrant sentiment in the aftermath of September 11th. Ignorance is truly bliss; being from Panama, race did not even cross my mind very often. In Tennessee, I suddenly became Hispanic or Latino (white people use the terms interchangeably depending on geography; I stopped trying to figure it out a long time ago).

However, I had never met any gay people before, and was ready to embark on my first trip to a gay bar. Packed with my fake ID, my flirting skills learned from cheesy sitcoms like “The Nanny”, and a pretty rough English grammar, I went to my first gay bar with some lesbians in their thirties that I had met in the University’s gay organization. The experience was as liberating as it was scary. I had never felt so… free? I could not believe that gay men were actually able to hold hands and buy drinks for each other in the gay clubs. It was beyond me how a woman could flirt with another women. This was happening before my very eyes and in such a normalized and peaceful way that I just did not know what to make of it.

I can barely describe how I felt, but I remember a strong sense of relief, belonging, freedom, and equality. My mind was in shock, but I have always believed that whenever your mind is not responding, you should always rely on your instincts. And my instincts (along with my hormones) were telling me to give my number to that cute guy who was smiling at the bar.

He never did call, but within a year I was already living with three gay roommates and fully aware of how conservative the state of Tennessee is. Once I got a little more acclimated to American culture (rather “southern culture”), I realized that there was another society to become familiar with: the GLBT community. In a way, gay culture became home. It became my community. I was the only Panamanian I knew in the university, so I was really out of touch with my Panamanian roots. I needed a place to fit in, I needed a family, I needed a support network, and I needed to come to terms fully with my own sexually, so I embraced gay culture at its fullest because the gay culture embraced me as well! They did not care that I was an immigrant! They did not care that I had an accent! They made my immigrant journey easier (special thanks to the show Queer as Folk for strongly influencing my sense of style and wardrobe). I realized how special a gay friendship could be, and the sense of belonging and understanding that gay friends could give you. I really did feel like I was finally home.

For the first time, I could go out with friends and be myself. I was able to flirt and go on dates. I was able to kiss the guy I liked (only in private, I mean… this is still Knoxville, Tennessee). I was able to be a college student and just have fun like any other college student. However, all these things could only happen under very limited and determined circumstances: in gay clubs or in the privacy of my home. I never saw gay couples holding hands in public in Tennessee. I did not meet many LGBT families. I started noticing that GLBT individuals were actually being made fun of and regarded as strange by the community at large. I was only able to feel fully safe around gay people and allies.

I knew that my legal standing was different, not only because I am an immigrant, but also because I am gay. I knew I could not get married (I did not care so much about this because I was having too much fun having casual sex), I could get fired from a job for being gay (this did not bother me too much either because student visas prevent you from working off campus), I could not serve openly in the army (this also was not too big of a deal for me… I would get my ass kicked in the army anyway), hate crimes did not protect me (looking back and thinking of the many times I walked back and forth late at night from the gay clubs to my dorm room… I am very grateful that nothing tragic ever happened to me). I also knew that many GLBT youth were not safe in school (just like I was not in my high school).

However, I did not make much of it because none of these laws prevented me from going out, partying, and having a good college time with my friends. On the other hand, when I started noticing how racially segregated the school cafeteria was, how small the Hispanic community was, how sometimes people would choose to ignore me because they did not want to make the effort to understand my Spanish accent… This is when I decided that Knoxville, Tennessee was not the ideal place for a gay Hispanic immigrant, and this is how I ended up on South Beach.

Coming to Miami for graduate school was a completely different experience. After finishing my Masters degree, I got a job offer from an American company. My student visa expired, but I had a temporary work permit that allowed me to work for a year. That same year I fell in love with my partner and started planning my life with him. My work permit had an expiration date, but my love for my partner did not. After thousands and thousands of dollars spent on legal fees, I was able to secure a temporary work visa.

This is when all the legal inequalities really started to bother me. If we were an opposite-gender couple we would not be faced with immigration challenges, and he would be able to sponsor me for permanent residency just like straight couples can do it when they get married. Also, not only did I have to worry about my immigrant status during my job search, but I was also afraid to be judged because of my sexual orientation and not my skills and qualifications.

I have been living in this country for almost a decade. I am involved in my local community, pay my taxes, work in the nonprofit sector helping underprivileged communities, and feel happy to be part of and contribute to American society. This says a lot about my immigrant journey. I do not understand why there is not a realistic, affordable, and legal path towards permanent residency

My GLBT immigrant journey has been and continues to be an exciting one. Coming from such a small town knowing nothing about the Stonewall riots to being involved in grassroots gay rights lobbying efforts. From being so repressed and afraid of my own sexuality to living with my partner and demanding the right to marry him. From not understanding Saturday Night Live sketches to cracking up with watching the movie Superbad.

I do not struggle culturally because I am a gay immigrant anymore, and that is in great part because both the gay and immigrant community have embraced me helped me acclimate to this great country. The gay and immigrant groups need to work together towards their final goal, which is legal recognition. Discussions need to start happening and coalitions need to be made. I am looking forward to the day when I am regarded as equal and when the laws treat the GLBT AND the immigrant community fairly. In the meantime, I will keep fighting for it and invite you to do the same because unless you are a Native American, we are all immigrants and fairness and equality are the reasons why ALL OF US moved to America.

JG of Miami

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Story of D.

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Stories - from other sites |

A special thanks to, where this story is currently posted.

D. Wrote:
I am gay man and an American citizen. For the last four years I’ve been with J, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. I feel bad that I have to stress that he is not a bad person, has a job, and has never committed a crime. At this point in our national discussion on illegal immigration, we have such a distorted image of what an undocumented immigrant is. We start out by calling him an illegal, instead of an undocumented immigrant. That is what many people automatically believe about illegal immigrants; that they ARE illegal. Some believe that they are coming into this country specifically to commit as much crimes as they can get away with while they are here, and that they are a drain on our system. They argue that if you came here illegally, you then base your life on an illegal action, and everything you do after that is therefore illegal. Being undocumented, in fact, is not a criminal offense, but a civil one.

We live together. We are in love and want to spend the rest of our lives together. I knew that this issue was ours to deal with from the beginning, but now that our relationship has grown much more serious, I would like to find a way somehow for him to become a US citizen, but there doesn’t seem to be any solution anytime soon. I’m angry that there are at least 16 other countries that would allow a same sex couple to marry each other for immigration purposes. Why the big hang up in the US?

Both Democratic presidential candidates have promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, and say that they would offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of immigration reform, but I feel that immigration reform is not a high priority for any of the presidential candidates.

I feel like there really isn’t much sympathy or empathy for us in either the gay community or the immigrant rights community. Thank you for listening.


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