Do Ask! Do Tell!
Love Exiles will present a workshop during the Outgames in Copenhagen, on July 27th, and on 1 August will be present on the I Do Boat in the Amsterdam Canal Pride. We also participated in a Dutch/US exchange during Gay Pride at the end of June. The urgent need to redress discrimination in US immigration law is the main theme of all events.
The Love Exiles workshop at the World Outgames will be held on 27 July 2009, 15:30 – 17:00. Panelists are Martha McDevitt-Pugh, Bob Bragar and Gordon Stewart. I will chair the event. We will tell people how it is for us to be forced to live outside our countries of origin, in order to be with our spouses or partners. We will examine how countries such as the Netherlands handle the issues that face same-sex couples, with suggestions that other countries can follow. The workshop will deal with the challenge of changing cultures/ being a foreigner, language issues, employment challenges, human stories of change, immigration and love, visa and immigration obstacles and possibilities. We will also highlight the loss of professional talent that countries that prohibit same-sex immigration experience when they force their citizens to emigrate as love exiles.
In Amsterdam, we will be on the I Do Boat during Amsterdam’s annual canal pride. The I Do Boat is an initiative of a communications agency in partnership with Amsterdam city council’s marketing program to promote openness and tolerance in the city of New York and Amsterdam. Five binational (New York/Dutch) gay couples will be married on the boat, during the parade, by Amsterdam’s mayor Job Cohen. When we read the line in the I Do Boat’s press release of the organizers that “these marriages will be legally binding” we realized that people will not understand that these marriages will only be legally binding in the Netherlands, and that in most States in the United States they will be worth less than the paper they are printed on. We were also concerned that, if any of the Dutch men in the five couples did not have green card or a US passport, declaring their relationship may create problems with US immigration. We spoke with the organizers and then with Carolien Gehrels, Amsterdam’s Deputy Mayor, explaining the problems of sending simply a message of tolerance and ignoring the fact that hundreds of gay and lesbian US citizens are living in exile in the Netherlands with their European partners. We wanted our story told as well.
We heard today that the City Council would welcome us on their boat, and that we will be involved in the press conferences. We are very honoured and pleased with this invitation.
We would love to use both events as opportunities for meeting old frinds and new exiles. Please get in touch with us!