M. From Uruguay

Posted on December 30, 2009. Filed under: Stories |

Story – Interview Style

Basic bio information:
When / where were you born? Uruguay, South America.  But my family moved to Australia when I was 1 year old and I lived there until I was 26 years old.

What is your ethnic background? Hispanic and French.  My mother and her family were from Uruguay.  My father was born in Argentina but his mother was from France and his father was from Spain.

Where have you lived? Uruguay;  Sydney, Australia;  Los Angeles, CA.

What occupation(s) have you worked in? Telephonist, Receptionist, Administration Assistant, Casting Assistant, Senior Co-ordinator for a catering company, Personal Assistant.

When did you come to the US (Western Culture)? 2000

Coming out:
When were you first aware of sexual identity? How did that happen? I discovered men had sex with other men when I was around 9 years old.  I forget when I was aware of what being gay was.

How do you define coming out? I think this means when did I come out, so I answered it that way. to self around 16 or 17 I think.  It wasn’t one defining moment though.

… to other gay people? I don’t remember

… to your family? I told my mother when I was 20 or 21.  She was homophobic and didn’t take it well.  I didn’t tell my brother, he just discovered it on his own when he went through my bag for something and found a gay street rag.  He asked me what that was and my response was an annoyed “What do you think?!!” because he interrupted my computer game.  Then I realized I had just come out to him.  I had extremely limited contact with the rest of my family by this point so it wasn’t an issue.

… to straight people (how and when did you first tell them?) I started when I was 18.  I was pretty upset about some other issues in my life and wrote a whole bunch of notes when I was feeling my worst.  Part of that was an acknowledgement that I was gay.  I showed it to someone who I spoke to as an unofficial counselor.  I also told someone I worked with when she asked.  Those are the first couple of people I remember telling.  They were both women. 

What influenced your coming out? I forget, a need to be open I guess.

When did you decide to immigrate? 2000

What motivated you to immigrate? I was bored and met someone who lived in Los Angeles and assured me his company would sponsor me.  Had I not met him, I would have gotten a work visa and moved to London.

What were the biggest cultural differences you noticed? Not much, coming from an English speaking country.  Everything was just bigger here.

What were your expectations of being an immigrant? I don’t remember.  New adventures I guess.

What was your biggest learning moment/moments as an immigrant? Not sure.  When I spoke to lawyers I think and learning the process of immigration here.  Seeing the ridiculous state of health care in America was a big thing, having come from a country where it was relatively free.  I remember when I first came here I would hear people talking about having health care and having not had financial issues with health care in Australia meant I took it for granted so I didn’t see what the big deal was.  I appreciate health care more now.

What would you like to share with others about being an immigrant? The immigration process is just terrible here.  If anyone is considering coming here, I would advise them to speak to lawyers and act very carefully.  Speak to more than one lawyer.  And make sure you can trust the people who are sponsoring you.

Family background / growing up:
When / where did you grow up? Sydney, Australia
What did you want to be when you grew up and do you remember what inspired those dreams? Dancer, vet, lawyer.  Films like Can’t Stop The Music and TV shows like Solid Gold; loving animals; seemed like a good idea and I was a righteous person.

Any early signs about later orientation? (being a tomboy, playing w. kids of opposite sex, preferring opposite sex games and activities) I got along easier with girls and liked dressing up in my mother’s clothes when I was a kid.  That was just specific to me though.

Acceptance/rejection of these activities, or of emerging expressions of identity, by family members? My family was homophobic, I wasn’t beaten for dressing up or being a sensitive child, but their reaction wasn’t “Oh, I think you’re gay, awesome!”  They just thought I was odd.

Did your race/ethnicity make a difference? how? I didn’t think so.

Social acceptance/rejection within gay community (re race)? — within one’s ethnic community (re sexual orientation)? None.

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? No real experience here to speak of.

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? Not really.

Is there any things else you would like to talk about or share, that has not already been discussed? Or other topics that you want to cover? Um, well this whole immigration situation has been rather trying for me (I came here on the promise from my partner at the time that I would get sponsored by his then employer, that didn’t happen, then he found someone else to sponsor me, that person strung me along and flaked on me/lied to me, my lawyer didn’t inform me of the process completely which made matters worse).  I can start the sponsorship process over again with a better lawyer, but I’m 36 and it would be another 5 years of being in limbo.  I’m too old to go through this crap again or wait for the hope that gay marriage and therefore immigration will change, so I’m moving back to Australia in the next couple of months.  I don’t mean to sound like a victim above, but that’s just the way it happened.  I made some stupid choices.  It’s been a learning experience though.


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