My partner Mauricio was denied a visa to come to the USA, for a second
We have decided to make a life together in Berlin. I have a new job as
a director at a great center for contemporary dance and physical theater
in Potsdam on the southwest edge of Berlin. (www.fabrikpotsdam.de) We will
be moving to Berlin on August 4.
what brought all this about?
November of 2000 I met a man in Rio de Janeiro. His name
is Mauricio Novais. We fell in love. I have since then
been to Brazil to be with him eight times, for periods
ranging from two weeks to three months. Additionally,
we traveled together in Italy for three weeks in 2001,
and worked together on a performance project in Germany
for a month in the summer of 2002. He has tried to come
to the US, but he has not been allowed. A little over
a year ago Mauricio applied for a tourist visa to come
here. He was turned down. Like me, he is a gay artist,
working in dance and theater, and scrambles to make a
living. Our consulate looks for "proof of ties to
his country". This would be a wife and children,
a full time job, ownership of a house, and a lot of money
in the bank. He’s a gay and an artist and has none
of these (just like me). His application was refused.
(Fortunately for me my first-world-privilege means no
one ever asks me for these.)We decided this year to try
again, with a different approach. We had the pro bono
advice of two immigration attorneys in Minneapolis. On
May 15, 2003 Mauricio had an interview at the US Consulate
in Rio as part of his application for a student visa.
He had been accepted to study English at the Minnesota
English Center at the U of M. My brother had agreed to
sponsor him. He had a letter explaining that he is an
apprentice with a professional dance company based in
Rio, a company which tours internationally, and will
be a full time company member as of January 1, 2004.
He was going to study here from September through December.
Our consular officials asked him why a dancer needs to
learn English, and suggested he stay in Brazil to learn
English. Visa denied. $195 spent applying down the drain.If
there were true equality in this country, I would be
able to apply to bring Mauricio into this country as
my life partner, as any heterosexual can. We would not
have to resort to tourist and student visas.As it now
stands, I am forced to choose between living in this
community, which I love, and being with the man I love.
I wish I could stay, but I am leaving for love. This
is sad and unfair. It will be a great loss for me and
for our community.
have contributed much to our community in my lifetime.
Among my contributions to our community are:
thirty years of performing on stages ranging from
the Walker and Guthrie to the Southern and Illusion
Theaters, to scores of schools across the state
of Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis
of the Science Museum of Minnesota’s outreach
program, Museum on the Move
development of the Museum Magnet School in the
St. Paul Schools
of my papers to the Tretter Collection at the Andersen
Library at the University of MN
my age, forty-nine, I figure I have contributed about
half of what I have to give. I would love to have the
opportunity to continue to make such contributions in
Minnesota, and to be able to live with my partner at
the same time.
sent a letter explaining all this to both Senator Mark
Dayton, and Representative Martin Sabo, encouraging them
to get the Partners Immigration Bill passed. Rep. Sabo
responded, he is a co-sponsor of the bill, and wants
to get it passed.
it seems first we will require regime change here. Canada’s
recent embrace of gay marriage makes clear how far we
have to go in this country to have truly equal rights
for gay and lesbian citizens.
of this has required me to lead a double track life since
last fall. That is when Mauricio and I decided to make a
life together. Plan A, our first choice, was to try again
to get a visa for Mauricio into the US. Plan B was to move
to Europe. Knowing that there was a good chance that Plan
A would fail, I lived my life doing what I could to provide
for both options. That included arranging to participate
in the dance festival at the fabrik/Potsdam in May and June,
2003. The visa was denied a week before I left for the festival.
That was fortunate. I went knowing that I would be teaching
and performing, seeing many shows, and simultaneously I would
be attempting to make connections and lay a foundation for
our arrival and building a life together.
I tried not to worry. I remembered the sign on my mentor
Remy Charlip’s office wall; Worry is praying for
the worst. I tried to imagine good things. Things turned
out better than I had dreamed possible. I was offered a
job as a director at fabrik/Potsdam, the theater where
the festival was held. I found an apartment for us in Potsdam
in August, and another sublet for September through November
in Berlin. The job offer is the result of a nurtured relationship.
I first performed at fabrik/Potsdam in November of 1992.
I stayed in touch with the folks there over the years.
Mauricio and I visited there last summer. Now I will be
working there. fabrik/Potsdam is a center for contemporary
dance and performance. It has a theater seating 200 people,
2 dance studios, an aikido dojo, 6 guestrooms for artists,
a bar/café and a beer garden, as well as the necessary
offices and tech/support areas. It is located on the shore
of the Havel River, and a five-minute bike ride away there
is a beautiful nude beach. The center of Berlin is a 20
minute train ride from Potsdam.Clearly there will be challenges,
but I am excited to meet them. This job will do more than
provide a base for building my life with Mauricio. It will
allow me to build on my previous work as a performer, director
of a theater, and lover of languages. It will pull together
more aspects of my self than I have ever had in a job,
and that is saying a lot. It will allow me to shift from
working on growing the local arts community to having an
international focus. The timing here is critical. The hostile
attitude of the current US administration (best understood
as wanting to create the world’s largest gated community)
threatens to severely isolate progressive artists in this
country. I hope to be in a position to connect US artists
to a broader global community. It will be essential for
artists from the US to go abroad to maintain global dialogue,
because many international artists are choosing not to
come here. They are no longer willing to subject themselves
to the hostile treatment they routinely encounter in US
Consulates and Embassies in order to come here. The saddest
truth is that as a foreigner in Germany I have more right
to live with the man I love, than I have as a citizen in
my own country. The most joyful truth is the universe has
revealed a poetic design to all of this. I left Patrick’s
Cabaret explaining "I am more of a ship builder than
a captain. This ship has weathered a few tough storms,
and is now tight and seaworthy. It is time for a captain,
and for me to find new ships to build." I left the
cabaret not knowing where I was headed. The name of the
street where I’ll be working at the fabrik/Potsdam
is Schiffbauergasse. Ship Builders’ Alley. I hope
you will come to one of the upcoming shows. I hope you
will come to the party, and buy something. It will help
me to afford to come back to visit. It will be good to
see you. I look forward to staying in touch. I look forward
to having guests.With much joy and anger,