I first met Dennis in the laundry room of our building. He was quite striking: an exotic Asian, rail-thin, shiny black hair hanging half-way down his back, and, well, to be honest, kind of nelly. He seemed friendly. In our first few minutes together he confessed to me he always washed his clothes twice: first he used detergent and the second wash was just water because he didn’t like soap residue.

I never got to know him well, but The B-Man and I would say Hello to him each time we saw him and learn a bit more. He is an aerobics instructor, a dancer, and one of those Moderns who make their living on eBay. His partner’s name is James and they’ve been together for 13 years.

The other day, The B-Man and I were leaving the building when we saw Dennis and James loading two huge suitcases in the back of their SUV. I made some joke about luggage and vacations, but as soon as I finished, I knew by their faces they weren’t packed for a fun trip.

“Dennis is the only one that’s going.”

“Where?”

“He has a one-way ticket to the Philippines.”

I had a terrible suspicion why Dennis was leaving. James confirmed. The INS had sent a letter and told him he had to leave the country. There was nothing they could do.

The B-Man and I were stunned. We hugged them not knowing what to say nor able to offer any kind of hope. It was so damned unfair.

When we went to City Hall to file our Domestic Partnership, standing next to us was a middle-aged White man next to a very young and pretty Asian woman applying for a wedding license. She apparently spoke no English, because he answered all the questions the clerk asked her. To us, it looked like he was making up the answers since all she did was smile. Later, when we talked about it, we both thought the same thing: mail-order bride.

The deportation of Dennis is a slap in the face to every Gay couple in this country: the Internet bride that guy was marrying and knows nothing about will get her citizenship just because she’s marrying a straight American, but James, who’s lived with Dennis for years, can’t get married and thus, can’t offer the same citizenship to his Gay partner. So much for equality, eh?

As we struggled to think what we could say to comfort Dennis and James, and knowing there was nothing, feeling powerless, we joined them in their blue funk of bitter resolve.

I guess James sensed our sadness and said, “It’s not so bad, in a few years, I’ll retire and move to the Philippines and we’ll live the rest of our lives together.”

And thus, America will lose another good citizen.

As I gave Dennis a final hug, I said into his ear the only truth I knew to be true, the only comfort I felt I could give, “Love conquers all.”

After all, I thought, look at The B-Man and me.

Good-bye, Dennis; I would like to have known you better. Stay strong. Love and Light to you and James.

Advertisements