Sunday, October 02, 2005

AR Part Two: Me Me Me!

This is an installment from the Adolescence Revisted series, started here.

I've been getting a little bit of grief over my comparisons of gay liberals with adolescents. Some believe it's an ad hominem attack beneath contempt. No, beneath contempt would be the various press releases of a certain task force.

My intention is not to call names, but to illustrate certain political approaches. When I think of politics, I try to reason my way through the swamps and swat aside the mosquitoes of emotion and midges of personal discontent. Politics oughtn't be an emotional business, though they almost always are. My guides are the Constitution and the Republic. No matter what my personal stakes or inconveniences, I try to discern what is the best way to go about something so that these things are kept intact. It is one thing to profess a love and respect for America and the Constitution. It is quite another to actually practice it. We hear plenty of the former while seeing little practice of the latter.

In the great gay debates, in the midst of it all, homosexuals often tell heteros "If you were me, if you had to live my life, you'd feel differently about gay rights and gay marriage!" That is the most often heard argument.

I'm gay. I live that life. I don't feel differently.

I have lived a life more affected by my sexuality than most people. If we're going to use our lives as a battering ram of reason, then indulge me as I delineate mine.

We'll call him V.

I had just come off one of the most psychopathic relationships I'd ever experienced. I wrote for various web publications. After I put out an article about an experience with the local police and the endless homophobic slurs I was subjected to in their presence, a boy, V, e-mailed me about it.

We hit it off. He was British, I, American. Over time, I grew more attracted to him, distance be damned. We smiled to each other every night over webcams and spent, literally, thousands of dollars saying hey on the phone. He bought a ticket and came to meet me in September, 2001. We spent a week of bliss before we dealt with the horror of Sept. 11th. Only by whim were we not in New York that day, as we had plans to visit that week but chose not to at the last minute. Even then, every member of his extended family and beyond called in desperation. It took us two weeks to find him a new flight home as he'd missed his in the grounding of the airlines.

Still, our relationship turned out to be very strong. I loved him and he loved me. But how could we make such a thing work? He had not finished British college, but we thought America offered us the best chance in terms of opportunity and career advancement.

We approached American immigration just as the INS disintegrated in the newly minted Department of Homeland Security. We found ourselves hitting barrier after barrier to his immigration. We consulted with every immigration attorney under the sun. We found the names of prominent gay-oriented immigration specialists who wanted endless thousands of dollars to even attempt immigration for V.

In a moment of desperation, we even drove to Canada, hoping his passport would be renewed for another three months. No deal.

It became abundantly clear that, given his level of education, V. immigrating to America was very much an impossibility. If we wanted to stay together, I had to move to Britain.

I did not want to move to Britain. I had a budding career here in the states. My aging parents had both fallen ill, and I didn't care to put 4,600 miles between us. Was that the choice facing me?

So it was. I bought a ticket and moved to Britain, leaving my entire life behind. I had no friends, no family, no job, no life outside of my boyfriend. Britain's laws are far more lax than America's. I could live there for six months, leave the country for a weekend, then re-enter and have my passport stamped for another six months. We continued on this way for years. Tony Blair and Labour had not yet passed an immigration act allowing for domestic partners, so it was not an option for us.

Though I set up a bank account and obtained credit cards, I could not work in Britain. I was reduced to free-lance writing for a meager income as we trudged along. I was effectively an illegal immigrant, a man without a home country, a nomad traveling across Europe trying to salvage some vestige of stability in a situation wrought by the lack of protections for gay relationships.

I spent nearly three years this way, my life in the air, my future the very essence of uncertainty.

No homosexual making a political argument can lecture me on the realities of domestic partnerships or gay marriage. I know. Not only do I know on the state level, but I was made painfully aware of it on the federal level.

And yet, I persist. There are methods to all of this. Yes, I would have liked it if the federal government recognized my relationship. It cost me beyond reckoning when it did not. I gave up everything because of it. My entire established life. When my mother had a heart attack, I was over four thousand miles away and helpless. There is no limit to the pain I suffered as a result of the situation.

But I believe in America and the Constitution. There are appropriate methods to get what we want. There are things above us, beyond us. There are institutions and systems that must endure when we've shuffled off this mortal coil. My personal pain and chaos is but one drop in the flood of the Republic. We cannot demolish that because I personally found discomfort and hardship. My wants and needs matter, but not so much that I'm willing to wreck the constitutional order and insist a few black robed arbiters with an agenda remake law and our foundations in their self-appointed images.

It is wrong. It is a recipe for governmental disaster. It is an attitude and an ideology that will have effects that will rain upon the generations to come. We, every single citizen, are the guardians of the Constitution. It is only ever as good as the viligance of the citizens.

Do not tell me it is your life. It is my life. And yet, I still understand the importance of the Constitution, the government, the Republic. It is not all about you. It is not all about me.

It is about those who come after.

And that is everything.