5 April 2007
Like baseball great Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vous all over again,"
After waiting a year and a half my boyfriend Nut and I decided to make a second attempt to get a visa for him to visit the United States. I really wanted him to see my country and where I came from. Call me selfish, but I wanted to enjoy seeing him get excited about the Statue of Liberty, the Museum of Modern Art, the Golden Gate Bridge, the wine country. I wanted to see him tuck into a pastrami sandwich at Katz's, a plate of enchiladas in San Diego, and a real New York Steak in Ukiah. I wanted to see him go berserk in a Costco store. But most important, I want him to meet my mother. They exchange email and phone calls. She's in her eighties and no longer able to make the long trip to Thailand. Since Nut and I have been together for five years I want badly for them to meet at last. After that, we planned to return to Thailand. Who wouldn't?
So we put a year into doing things the right way. The right bank account. The right paperwork. The right invitation letters. The right employment credentials. One of our staff who was successful at getting a visa coached Nut for weeks so he would be poised and well prepared when it came time for the interview.
I joined him for the first interview. We stood in line (queued up) on the street beginning at 06:30 and finally stepped up to the bullet-proof window at around 10:30. The "interview" took less than one minute. "Where do you plan to stay during your trip?" the young man hind the glass asked. "With my friend and his mother."
Bang. What we eventually came to call the "Boyfriends Not Allowed in America" stamp went into his passport. I was devastated. Nut clamed not to be upset but it did not take very long for his now-soiled passport to fall accidentally into the shredder. (Again.)
All of our friends and plenty of complete strangers had advice about the second interview. I should go with him. I should not go. Get a business visa. Don't get a business visa. In the end, I chose not to go with him. He was well prepared and everyone who was rooting for him expected him to get the visa this time.
He didn't of course. The interview lasted 45 seconds. The Young Republican behind the glass barely tossed through all of the carefully-prepared documents.
"Douglas is your partner?"
"Yes, five years."
Bang. Another Boyfriends Not Allowed stamp. Nut claims not to be upset, but I know he is. He says he is more upset about the $200 in application fees all of this has cost me. Soon thereafter he ran off to be with his own elderly mother in Lampang. I do not blame him.
Official homophobia? You bet it is. The visa process at the United States Embassy in Bangkok is demeaning for all Thai applicants. This has not been good for Nut's self esteem, of course. "I am not good enough to go to America," he told me. Why is it gay men seem to be singled out for official disapproval, particularly if they are in stable relationships with U.S. citizens?
Americans should be ashamed of that.
I have written Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer, my representative in Congress. In the end that will probably have been a worthless exercise. There is plenty of official homophobia for them to deal with at home, and everyone is so busy running for reelection or higher offices that it hard to say what is high on anyone's list of priorities of our. Those of us who have not lost our memories completely remember that some of our "friends" in Washington have, at best, just used us and we remember better than they do when their own political futures rose and fell with the support of our community. And why should anyone care what happens to some Thai person who can not even vote?
If you are a U.S. citizen, maybe you should.
Personally, I am sick and tired of being an American. The world hates us. Imbeciles run our government. The President of the United States is a complete moron. Self-proclaimed "Christians" try to police everyone else's morality. It seems the American government has a national policy is to cheat, slaughter and manipulate cultures they know nothing about in the name of "democracy," something I am not sure really exists anyway. All of the things that made us believe in America have been stolen from us by people who put profits from a war and from the wholesale destruction of our planet above all else. And what do we get in exchange? A flag--usually folded and placed upon the top of a coffin.
America is represented in Thailand by unmarried, fifty-something bear clone U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce. You have to wonder what he thinks about his government's official policy of hate when it comes to Thai homosexuals, and whether "career diplomats" are obliged to be spineless when it comes to the most fundamental business of kindness, fairness and compassion. Then again, he is a career U.S. government bureaucrat and such people are seldom paid to do much thinking as long as their salary check and their pension are worth more to them than the fundamental values that Americans assume made their country great.
Do you think Italy would take me? Bhutan and Oman sound good. But suppose Monaco annexed West Hollywood, San Francisco, Palm Springs, West Palm Beach and what is left of Fire Island. Now there's an idea! The world's first lavender passport.