Monday, October 30, 2006

70's Party


Last Saturday Emilio and I hosted a 70's groovy party in our home. Emilio created pimp looking outfits for us,tie dyed shirts and he turned our living room into a dance lounge with a disco ball, strobe light, bubble machine, and blue lights.
We really had a great time and everyone seemed to enjoy it, friends and family all. It was great to just let our afro's down and just have a blast.



Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 27, 2006

It already looks bad

Lawmakers cool to gay marriage
"Half of New Jersey's 40 state senators said yesterday they would not support a bill legalizing gay marriage, dimming chances for the state to become the second to recognize homosexual partners the same way it views husbands and wives."

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-9/1161928180141470.xml&coll=1

I have been keeping myself busy debating the Supreme Court decision on New Jersey forums. Many times I am the only gay voice in a sea of idiots. It's mind numbing the ignorance of the American public. I've had to take on every argument they can come up with and successfully tore their arguments down. At least in my eyes I've won.

One person was telling me that I have the same legal rights he does because we both cannot marry someone of the same sex. I made his head explode when I said, "Using your logic a slave owner and a slave had the same legal rights because neither could own a white man." I never saw him post again after that rebuttal.

I was listening to talk radio this morning and tried to call two shows. On NJ 101.5 someone called in to say gays are now going to bring illegal aliens in and marry them and bring all sorts of bad people in the country. The host went on and on about it. I called and told the women answeiing the phone that Jim Gearhart is spewing false information because Immigration is federal law and the NJ decision is state law only. She thanked me and hung up and he never corrected the wrong.

On WABC 77 AM one of NJ's idiot Conservatives Brett Schundler was talking about gay parents being inferior and was making up Harvard and Stanford studies. I called and said the AMA, APA and American Academy of Pediatrics agree that gay parenting is equal to straight parenting and children are not harmed whatsoever by having gay parents. All three favor marriage equality for gay families. Of course they to never even allowed my point to be heard.

All of this only makes me glad we applied for permanent residency. I realize there a lot of Canadians against SSM, but I could swallow that pill easier as their equal.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Viewpoint: A Separate But Equal Ruling for Gay Marriage


By JOHN CLOUD (Time magazine)

"While the New Jersey court pats itself on the back for advancing the civil rights of gays and lesbians, let’s pause for a moment to note what gays and lesbians have not won: actual equality"


Very interesting point of view.

Read the full article HERE

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Today the NJ Supreme Court Decides on SSM

The long awaited decision for SSM in our state is coming today. I have been trying to come up with a post on how we feel about it. We feel pessimistic but hopeful. The reality is we want Emilio's asylum more. It would be ironic if we received both decisions today.

Don't get me wrong, I would be thrilled if my state was the second in the nation to provide Same Sex Marriage, but the dirtly little secret most of us know is we need recognition for our families on the national level just as much as the state. I am tired of hearing politicians talk about the mythical national civil union that only exists in their minds because they want our vote while doing the smallest amount necessary to support us.

I guess I have saved all my optimism for the judge making a decision our way. I keep thinking about the parable the tortoise and the hare. It scares me a little because the hare in me is the impatient side ready to go to Canada. The tortoise realizes my country will get there, eventually......but when?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Swedish Hyundai TV ad

Very funny and convenient...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Update Time


Last Saturday we headed into the city for the contest and fundraiser.

The contest was a lot of fun and seeing my friends was great. We went in early and had dinner with my buddy David who I have been friends since the early 90's. We arrived at the LGBT Center and there was a section of seats saved for us along with the charity that was receiving funds from the show.

About the halfway point, Sebastian, the director of the documentary got up and spoke. Then he showed 11 minutes of the film about just Emilio and me. Needless to say, Emi was in tears the entire time as I held him close to me. All my friends were had tears as well and the place was completely silent.

I was amazed how Sebastian was able to "get us". He had filmed us a total of 10 hours over numerous visits. I leaned over to him and thanked him with watery eyes. In those 11 minutes he showed what 5 years pain at the hands of my unfair government is like, along with how much we love each other and our family. I didn't even remember saying half the things that were in the film.

For the rest of the night people were coming up to talk to me, and not only about immigration issues, but the struggles in their lives. It seems by us letting complete strangers into our private turmoil, it helped them to open up theirs. It was a bit overwhelming.

I have to admit before seeing the film I was nervous about our private lives going out to the public sphere. I learned on Saturday exactly why we have a Coming Out Day. We need to speak up or else we will never be heard.

We ended the night on my favorite street in NYC. We piled into Louie's Trail Blazer and went to Ty's on Christoper Street for one last drink, then Emilio and I drove the long ride back to the home we just opened up for all to see.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Saturday, October 7th

This Saturday the Metro Bears will be having their annual Mr. Metro Bear and Metro Cub 2007 contest.

Saturday
October 7th, 2006
7pm-11pm
The LGBT Community Center
208 W. 13th Street
(between 7th & 8th Aves)
New York, NY

My wonderful friend Louie is the current MetroCub 2006 winner and will be handing over his title. Louie petitioned the Metro Bears to include the documentary Through Thick and Thin that we took part in as a beneficiary of the event.

Emilio and I met at the regular Friday night Metro Bears gathering at "The Dugout" on Christopher Street in New York. Our early dates revolved around Metro Bear events like bowling and their bar nights. In 2002 Emilio was Mr. May in their calendar for charity. They are just a terrific social organization that does good works too. We now are too far from the city to go to the regular events, but Metro Bears is always in our hearts.

The Director of Through Thick and Thin who has become a cherished friend, Sebastian Cordoba, will be showing an 11 minute trailer of the documentary that deals with our story. He's been pushing me to say a few words, but I am terrified of public speaking and I hear there will be 150 to 200 people there. Maybe some beer will give me courage!

I know most of you are not in the area, but just in case there are lurkers reading our Blog in the tri state area, we would love to see you there.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Court Update 2

One of the obstacles in the process I had is that I did not apply for Asylum during my first year in the US. I had a work contract and my first attorney didn’t give me my options. I didn’t know I could apply I was badly advised by this attorney. Plus I didn’t asks questions due to post traumatic disorder.

The psychological was the easy part because everything was documented by the wonderful work from Doctor Tuchin (we hired her as a consultant) that explained every psychological aspect of my life as a closeted gay male living in Venezuela.

My attorney addressed me with several questions about my infancy and early memories with family. I just said the histories that I had to say over and over. To my surprise, the judge made me stop and told my lawyer that anything about my infancy and teenhood were not relevant as a grown up male. Well hello, every aspect of my life is important. More importantly this modeled my behavior as an adult in a very homophobic and machista catholic society. That’s what exactly Joyce tried to explain them. I will not bore you with details of my life, but I just felt all my muscles get tense. From that moment I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. There were several times when the judge and both of the attorneys discuss my own issues and I was there, but not be able to open my mouth and say anything. I had to bring back situations from my past almost too painful to remember, clearing my throat and speaking to a people that do not have my confidence. Sorry to say but I am still having the effect of living all my life in Venezuela, it is very difficult for me to admit in public that I am gay. (Except for gay places) Proof of that is, I still freak out when Tom hugs me and Kisses me in front of the family, I always react emotionally cold and rigid and Tom teases me.

The questioning was really hard and at times I felt totally naked. My best word to describe it is “extreme” . Kind of a roller coaster of emotions. Then the Judge and the government Attonery were debating about if Tom should or shouldn’t speak. They felt Tom would not contribute any more significant evidence for the case. Joyce fought so hard to let him be part of it. Tom was then called in to speak. During the whole afternoon I tried to be as strong as I could, until I saw Tom seated in front of me, and he started answering the first questions. I simply melted down and I could handle myself any more. The simple idea of being separted from the love of my life is devasting to me, than even right know, while I am writing I can’t contain myself.

It was kind of a relief to hear the Judge say I am a good man, that works hard, pays taxes and never had a criminal record. I am glad it is over and I hope for good. Tom doesn’t deserve this stress anymore.
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Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and LaborMarch 8, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Court Update


Immigration day always starts with pancakes. Well for me it began with a little C-SPAN, the treadmill, a shower, and then a haircut. Finally when I got back the pancakes were all ready courtesy of Emilio. I decided this time we would take the Wonder Wagon to Newark. I thought it would bring us luck.

Emilio and I got to the court very early. The hearing was set to begin at 1:30 and we arrived shortly after noon. We hung out in the waiting area and just before 1:30 a man comes out of one of the court rooms with tears of happiness with his family hugging and kissing him. We saw this as a good sign.

Our lawyer Joyce talked with us briefly. We told her I really wanted to be in the room, so let's get my affidavit regarding a previous lawyer's bad advice out of the way. (A witness is not allowed to be in the room until they make their testimony).

So I reluctantly go to the waiting area. An hour goes by and I am a bit freaked. It doesn't help matters that I am sharing the room with the Mexican version of the Brady bunch whose "Carola" is going before the judge today too. The kids are carrying on and killing the strategic role playing I am doing in my head. By hour two I am about ready to crawl into a fetal position in a corner somewhere. Finally "Carola" is done and the Bradys leave. I am completely freaked that I am not in that court room!

At 2.5 hours a lawyer who keeps bopping in and out says she's handled four cases while I was still just sitting there. She asked me what am I doing. I said, "My partner is in his asylum hearing and I am waiting to be called". She responded, "Your law partner?". I said, "No, my domestic partner, you know like husband". She understood and wished me luck.

A few minutes later Joyce comes out and says she will be ready for me in a couple minutes. She told me to be prepared to talk about post traumatic stress for Emilio. I thinking, holy shit I am supposed to just testify about a previous crappy lawyer. She goes back in the room and a couple minutes later comes to me and says "Look Tom, I need you to close this deal. You need to prove post traumatic stress and why going back to Venezuela would be bad for Emilio". I realize what she means is other than our relationship you need to talk about why going back to Venezuela would be harmful to Emilio. Our relationship literally has no bearing whatsoever in this hearing.

I walk into the room and I see my sweet Emilio looks completely shell shocked after a grueling 2.5 hours of questions back and forth about his country, his history, his family, life in Caracas...etc

I take the stand and was asked the usual who are you? where do you live?
Then Joyce asked me what I think would happen to Em if he were sent back. I responsed he would not survive, it would literally kill him. I then told them a story that happened a few months ago. Every night before we go to sleep Emilio and I lay in the bed and talk. One night Emilio was teasing me about something and I replied back jokingly, "Watch it, I might just put you on a one way plane to Caracas". He basically completely broke down uncontrollably. Even just a brief thought of going back there devastated him. At this point Emilio and I are both crying in court.

I got my composure back and made some more testimony about our life, our family and friends. Then the government attorney asked me. if Emilio was sent back, would I go to Venezuela too?. I told him yes I would, but that country is not safe for Americans with kidnappings. Plus it's hell for gay people. You cannot live openly there. Then I told the story of how Emilio came here. I told them at 38 years old he sold everything he owned, said goodbye to family and friends, literally put what's left of his life in a suitcase and came here. I told them people do not do things like that unless they are in a devastating situation. I added that in my 39 years I couldn't possibly imagine the stress he must have been under to literally begin life over with only a suitcase. I said that fortunately for me life has never been that bad to take such drastic measures. I could see they all could relate by the look in theirs eyes.

Finally it was all over, the judge told Joyce she was really glad she agreed to hear me speak. (this made me beam with pride). Aparently there were arguments back and forth about letting me speak. The judge advised us that both sides have 10 days to present any further written evidence and that the oral arguments are now complete.

Joyce said we should have a final answer by the end of the month, and it looks good.

So we drove towards home, had dinner at our town diner. Got home and got into our T-shirts and just collapsed on the bed in complete emotional exhaustion. At 8pm Emilio decided to go into the garage and work on a painting, I joined him with some apple wine and Mike's Hard Lemonade. We listened to Enya and appreciated just being together.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tomorrow

Well....tomorrow is our next day of indignity before the federal judge. I have to say we are fairly lucky because our judge is truly a wonderful person. She is very kind to those who appear in front of her. She is helpful and respectful as well. We just hate the idea that we have to go there, it's a stark remindeer of our second class status.

I am still not nervous, which is rare for me. Emilio is another story. He's a little frazzeled. The only thing I have to do is go over my affidavit again tonight. He has a lot more homework to do.

I hope this whole thing will be done tomorrow and he gets asylum so we can travel to our future new home. I am over theUnited States and falling for Canada.