Corey and Alber
My name is Corey and I am a very proud American born and bred in West Texas. I spent 11 years in Los Angeles working as an Actor, Director of Theatre and Teacher of the arts. Feeling I needed to take my career in a different direction, I accepted a job as Artistic Director of a performing arts school in Central Japan.
This is where I met my partner, Alber, who is Brazilian. He had been in Japan for 5 years working for Mitsubishi.
The gay culture of Japan is in no way similar to the gay culture in the western hemisphere. In the city I was residing in, there was one club that would hold a gay night for foreigners once a month. Ex-pats from various parts of the west who were living in Japan would gather and make friends and have a very "western" evening together. A few months after I settled, I was at one of the "Gay Nights" where a friend introduced me to Alber. He immediately took me. We swapped phone numbers and had our first date a week later.
Naturally, we had absolutely no expectations of anything to seriously come of this. After all, we were both on limited visas in a foreign land and from different countries. To think that anything at all beyond a fun summer could develop, or be allowed to develop, was ludicrous. Little did we know how drastically we would fall in love with one another.
As the summer months progressed in this Asian land, we enjoyed together the Temples of Kyoto, the Shrines of the Shinto Gods, the cultures of the Buddhist way, and most importantly, each other. The rains of late summer kept us indoors many, many nights sharing music from our own countries, stories from our childhoods, recollections of our friends and families that we dearly missed and dreams of our futures. Though we had both experienced relationships before, perhaps this was the first time for both of us that we came to understand intimacy and trust in their entireties.
By the time that winter had crept upon us, we were deeply in love and committed to the relationship and a future together. Alber moved into my small but cozy dojo and we began to dream of our future together. We knew that there would be many obstacles before us. We began to talk of staying in Asia longer to save some money and devise a plan to stay together. I planned a trip home for the holidays, as I knew it would be my last chance to see my family for a while. Due to Alber's limited visa, he was unable to go with me. While in the states I found the support I had hoped for in my family. My sister and I sat up late night after night on the internet looking at our options as a bi-national gay couple. This is when I began to realize how very limited our options are.
Upon returning to Japan, Alber and I were more convinced than ever that we would not allow ourselves to be separated for a long amount of time. I soon talked to my employers and requested an additional six months on my contract to give us more time to save money and try to devise a plan. At this point, Alber had been in Japan for six years and was quite ready to leave. We knew that, at best, for now we could only hope for six-month tourist visas to each other's countries so we stayed where we were.
We began seeking information from the internet and our consulates there in Japan. Time and time again the answers were the same for us. One of us either needed to find a company in the other's country to not only hire us, but to also sponsor and pay for our work visa. This option proves to be near impossible, as any company willing to do this must prove that no citizen of the said country is qualified for the job therefore a foreigner must be brought in. Not to mention that it is extremely expensive for a company to do this. In addition, there is little call for such sponsorship within the fields that Alber and I are trained. Another option would be for one of us to continue our education in the other's country. This is yet another financial issue that we currently are not equipped to handle. I would gladly continue school in Brazil. Language is the barrier here. Though I am diligently studying Portuguese now, I am not fluent and therefore cannot attend a school in Brasil. And as far as Alber, speaks excellent English. However, like most Brazilians in this poor country, he was forced to stop attending school at age 14 and begin working to help take care of his family. We can only hope that his years of experience in his line of work can account for the education his missed out on.
So, where are we today?
Today we are in São Paulo, Brazil. Two weeks ago we had, with Alber's life long friends, an engagement dinner where we professed our love and commitment and intent on a commitment ceremony sometime next year in Hawaii. I am on a 3-month tourist visa renewable for three more months and valid for no more than 180 days a year. In another month we will apply for his first tourist visa to the United States, where if approved, he will be in the same visa situation there. Though law forbids me to work here, I have had no problem solidifying work as an English instructor. This is not exactly what I would choose to be doing, but at this point we just want to remain together and visas and airline tickets prove to be very expensive. With the current Brazilian economy, even if we both bring in upper-middle class wages, this will be less than $900 U.S. Dollars a month. Though this will go far here, when paying for international travel and cost of living for two, it will be very close indeed. Not to mention that if I am caught working while on a tourist visa, I can be deported or most likely, placed in jail until I can pay the extremely hefty fines.
And we would like to add a word on Brazil. Though this country offers exceptional beaches, exotic fruits and Carnival, this is not a land for homosexuals. This is a male dominated society plagued with what they call, "machismo." Macho-ism to the extreme. We quickly realized the importance of going back into the closet. A student of mine recently told me that there are rumors that " there is a Gay Bar in São Paulo." The additional 10 students, all high ranking executives, concurred to hearing the rumor and continued their English lesson in explaining what they would do if they ever say a "gay." I would like to remind you that São Paulo is the third largest city in the world closing in on the 20 million inhabitants mark. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reports that Brazil is but one of the countries where most gay people are killed.
Canada is an option that we are discussing and seriously looking at. If there is no other option then we will pursue this one. But as I mentioned before, I am an American and very proud of it. America is my home. My home is where we want to live.
We are in the beginning of our struggle. The next step is to apply for Alber's tourist visa and possibly see if we can get him into school in the United States. There currently are too many variables for us to know where we will be in four months when my visa is up. If he cannot get a visa we will have to remain here, in which case, I am highly illegal and will not be able to go home in the event of any emergencies or family situations. If we can get him to the U.S. then a whole new game begins with a whole new set of questions that will need to be answered within 6 months.
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