jAms (Canada) and Shannon (United States)

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , , , |

Shannon and I met one week upon my arrival in San Francisco in the summer 2007. I was only visiting for 6 weeks, and wanted to check out the queer arts and culture in the Bay Area. Our romance began as a magical summer love.

Close to my departure, Shannon decided to come see me in Vancouver where I was heading for my return plane to France. We started to make plans for her to come visit me in France, and for me to come stay longer in San Francisco after I was done with my studies the following year. Shannon started to take French classes. I looked at grants and schools in the Bay Area for a graduate program. We lived long-distance over a year with times when Shannon came to Paris or I traveled back to the US. Finally, I moved to San Francisco at the end of August 2008 on a tourist visa, hoping to create a life together, and ready to do whatever I could to stay in the country, near my love.

The more I looked at it, the more scary it became. The first weeks, I understood that even if we decide to get married (as it was legal at that time in California), this ceremony would not give me any immigration rights, which are on a federal level. It could even go against us, as I would become a visible illegal immigrant if I decided to stay beyond my tourist visa’s legal limit. I knew this was not a good idea. I started to look at the idea of a male partner to marry. This option did not appeal to us. It is based on lying about our love and our queer identities.

As a transgender person, the solution I was told was to transition all the way, change my gender identification to male, then I could marry Shannon. This is totally unconceivable for me. I have no money, no time, and actually no desire to pass as a male, nor to talk to doctors about my gender identity. Actually, living in San Francisco makes me feel a lot better about my gender expression and I believe this is another reason why I should be offered a better shelter here in California.

The american government does not provide any help for LGBT immigrants.

I applied for a graduate program starting in Septembre 2009. I have to leave in two weeks, and I know I will not be able to use my tourist visa anymore, as I have used it too many times and become “suspicious” to any Customs officer. The times when I had to cross the border are the worst memories of my time in the United States. I was put under pressure, and I knew I could not talk about the real reasons that brought me to this unlikable border: being in love and wanting to be happy.

I am hoping to be accepted to school. I am looking for financial support everywhere I put my eyes on but I do not know if/when I will be able to cross back again. If I do get a student visa, it again will be for a temporary stay of a couple of years. And then, what? I just wish Shannon could sponsor me as a resident, so that we can explore more our life together and continue provide this country of the cultural diversity that makes it so different and rich. -jAms

When jAms and I met, it was like a dream. I knew the reality of different cultures and limited time together, but I wanted to focus on the connection we had and the magic of the present moment. I wanted us to live the dream for as long as we could. That dream has now lasted almost two years.

Yet there have been many moments of heartbreak. It breaks my heart to try to cross the border to my country of birth with the person that I love and to hear and see the way that immigration officials engage in front of signs promising that they will treat each person that comes through with respect. It breaks my heart that they ask for proof that my love does not want to live here, asking for bank statements, insinuating misuse of visas although jAms has never been in this country illegally.

We spend months apart and then have weeks together. We’ve now had the longest time together and it is coming to an end as the visa comes to an end. Again we must separate. Again our relationship is not validated. Again we don’t know the next time that we will get to see one another. I never know if this dream has come to an end or we can keep believing in a future together. -Shannon
(photo; personal; “October 2008 – a fancy date”, jAms & Shannon together since: June 7, 2007)

This story is located at (to include pictures): http://imeq.us/our_stories/files/category-living-in-separation.html

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