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I was livid when I heard that Mehdi Kazemi, a gay teenager from Iran was being denied political asylum in the UK and then by a Dutch Court even after he could prove substantial risk to his life.
"I wish to inform secretary of state that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum … But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me."
He continued, "I can not stop my attraction to men … If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like [my boyfriend]. Since this incident … I have been so scared."
Finally, today, Britain halted the move to deport the teenager and granted temporary reprieve. For now, we can all sigh in relief that the international public outcry against the folly of deporting the gay teenager to Iran has halted the order. However, I couldn't help thinking of another gay Iranian friend of mine who is in the United States, and like me, also 'out-of-status' and awaiting his DREAMs to come to life.
He goes by "Quaker" on forums, and is one of the hard-working leaders in the movement to pass our DREAMS. And unlike me, he hasn't had the privilege to attend college in his state, since colleges there are unwilling to take "undocumented" students, yet, his focus, determination and drive to make a future for himself is apparent from his participation in the movement. A while ago, I asked him some questions about how it felt to be a DREAMer as well as being gay since I was curious about comparing our experiences. Here is what he had to say to several of my questions:
Is it more frustrating to be a gay DREAMer?
Absolutely. During our calling campaigns after hanging up the phone with any, pro-Dream / immigration reform, republican's office I'd think to my self 'now would they even give me the time of day if they knew I was also gay?' I always find myself having to think a bit on how to answer certain questions and whether it is worth the risk of exposing my self to them. "Do I want to risk losing them as a great ally in advocating for Dream?" Like for example with Mark, after chatting online for hours about the graduation card campaign and prior to that him giving me, out of the blue, enough money to cover the first plaque, we started to chit-chat about ourselves and at some point he asked whether I was religious. I had to think on that question for a good two or three minute, not because I didn't know the answer, but because I knew the follow-up would be why and I wasn't sure if it would be worth the risk of telling him. Here we had a great thing going, working on projects, getting something done and so is it really something I'd be willing to lose? Not something I think I would have even crossed my mind had the issue been say… my not accepting free tickets for the big OSU v UofM game because it was cold outside.
Do you think the pro-migrant or pro-DREAM community we have going is alienating towards queer immigrant issues?
At one point on the forum someone asked whether we'd be willing to volunteer for a possible DC lobbying trip, like many I immediately said yes. But then I started thinking about what story I would tell. I couldn't help but to keep going back to my being gay, being from Iran and how because of that I would probably never ever be able to go back to Iran. But then, just as with the phone calls, reality hit that it probably wouldn't be smart to share any of that as we'd drive a wedge between the much needed republicans. At the same time, without bringing that up I really don't have a story to share; I didn't spend 30 days walking across the blazing desert to get here, I don't have to take the bus for two hours everyday to get to and from school, I wasn't a 4.0 student that was denied the chance to go to an amazing school on a full ride and so on. It's frustrating because, even though you are out, you cannot share who you are. I also find it amusing how similar the "should I tell bf/gf/friend that I am illegal" is to what we have to go through when coming out.
Have you considered or been pressured into a marriage of convenience?
No, I mean it sucks not having the option and when people discuss getting legalized by doing so it always reminds me that I don't even have that option, but other than that I don't think of it much.
Have you faced any hostilities as part of the DREAM Act student movement?
I haven't had much hostility from anyone on DAP or any other pro-Dream person. We seem to be a pretty understanding bunch.
That concludes part of the experiment we are running about getting more DREAMers featured on this blog. Let us know if it is something you would be interested in seeing more of and we could probably hear other voices on this blog more frequently.