// THE IMAGINATION THIEF — Literary Fiction with a touch of Magical Realism and a dusting of Horror.

Rohan’s and Cradeaux’s Immigration Adventures

Rohan Quine - New York - Immigration AdventuresRohan’s and Cradeaux’s Immigration Adventures. (80’55”)

 

Big thanks to producer Elin Jonsson and her film crew, for taping this 2001 snapshot of the immigration adventures I went through in New York with my boyfriend Cradeaux, a U.S. citizen. It shows the practical reality of how two people sharing their lives and their love together were affected by the not-so-gay-friendly mechanisms of American immigration law at that time, which wrought havoc on the lives of many a romantic couple, where only one partner happened to have a U.S. passport. Straight couples in this situation could stay together by getting married, because opposite-sex marriages were recognised by federal law (which includes all immigration law). However, there was no federal-law recognition of same-sex marriages or partnerships, even where these had already been recognised by one of the individual States or cities in the U.S. that were forward-looking enough to issue such certificates under their own more local jurisdictions—so no same-sex marriage or partnership could be used by a gay couple for any federal benefit, such as immigrating in order to remain together.
(See video here.)


(This video is also on Vimeo and YouTube.)

His and my domestic partnership certificate issued by New York City was therefore not enough to get me a green card, not signifying quite the sort of man-and-wife relationship envisioned by the law. The oft-mentioned “solution”, whereby the non-U.S. citizen would enter into a fake marriage with a third-party U.S. citizen of the opposite sex, was not an option in reality, for two reasons. Reason (1) was that the immigration authority often interviewed both such parties separately and was well practised at uncovering that they didn’t really live together as they’d claimed to—a risk compounded, for me, by there being a wide trail of official paperwork revealing I’d been living for years with my boyfriend instead.

Reason (2) was that when I came to be scrutinised in an interview with the immigration authority, either alone or beside my putative wife, then the interviewer would probably realise I was gay. There had been many times when I’d tried to conceal this from certain people I had to interact with, from which I knew I could conceal it for only a number of minutes or moments at most, or sometimes for a matter of seconds, or even just until I met their eye … and then I could feel (and was sometimes informed) that my gayness had somehow leaked out nonetheless. This had been my experience, first as an innocent little boy-girl, albeit without yet knowing the words for the feelings; and then as a neurotic effeminate pimply adolescent, constantly horny and struggling to make emotional sense of my gender and my self-esteem and my sexuality and my pimples; and then at last as a liberated Downtown Manhattan Creature for a decade. I had to accept I was therefore unlikely to be able to conceal it for the duration of a green card interview.

I did find interest and humour in both reasons, and I knew I had things easier than thousands of refugee immigrants. But it made me angry that Cradeaux’s and my longstanding relationship, whose combination of love and romance and sex and laughter and shared adventures was just as deep and rich as any other relationship, was registered by the law as being somehow less real and less authentic, just because it happened to be categorised as homosexual instead of heterosexual.

Both reasons were also why I backed away from discussions with two kind women friends in succession, who’d raised the possibility of using their U.S. citizenship to get me a green card. Aside from the fact that the prospect of a fake marriage had always felt somehow wrong and emotionally uncomfortable to me, my attempting such a deception might well have caused the immigration authority not only to deport me but also to equip one of those compassionate female friends with a criminal record.

Well over a decade after Elin taped these three interviews with us, a decision on 26 June 2015 by the Supreme Court of the United States (a.k.a. “the Supremes”) did at long last ensure that federal U.S. law started recognising gay marriages in the same way as straight ones. But that long-awaited legal decision, which depended on the work of unsung activists over many decades, was not destined to occur until 12 whole years after this trio of 2001 interviews recorded Cradeaux’s and my particular moment within the over-arching history of legal respect for human love.

I notice, too, that the date of that eventual joyful decision by the Supremes, 26 June 2015, chanced to be just one single day before the anniversary of his and my very first meeting—27 June 1993, on Waverly Place at Gay Street, at Gay Pride in Greenwich Village, New York City, on that golden-hot summer afternoon, in an earlier time.

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Rohan Quine's Immigration Adventures 1

1. Transcription (0’00”-25’02”) of the first interview, on 27 June 2001: Rohan and Cradeaux on a stoop on Gay Street, Greenwich Village; and then returning to nearby 150 Waverly Place, exactly eight years after first meeting there on 27 June 1993

[Rohan:] Well, it is now 2001 and I came to New York in 1991, and so I will be 10 years in New York, come this August. It’s currently June. And it’s been a fantastic 10 years, and eight of those years I’ve been with Cradeaux.

I’d originally come to New York because my best friend, way back when, in England, was given a job for two years in L.A. And in fact he hated it; but I followed him anyway and was in L.A. for 11 months. I didn’t exactly hate it, but I didn’t connect with it. I had no car and I just had a big sort of contrast between London and L.A. I guess people call that culture shock. I didn’t feel shocked; I just felt bored, frankly. I will do L.A. properly in future, you know, when I’ve got wheels, at a different time of life. So yeah, 11 months there. And then, I remember, at 9.30 one night I suddenly had an idea, and within the following 30 seconds I decided to make this idea a reality: I suddenly thought to myself, “New York!” I’d been in L.A. four months, and this therefore was half the way through my stay there, because I spent half my stay settling in and the next half preparing to leave; and the intervening time was 30 seconds during which I was planning to plan to leave… So it was a romantic attachment, you can see, to that city!

But I immediately made it happen. I came here, I loved it within 20 minutes and I’ve stayed here. I’m an actor and a writer: I published a novel back in ’95, and I’m doing fun little things with movie stuff sometimes, a few little parts in movies and so forth. So, fun and games. And I first met Cradeaux—we were each involved in an acting project, I was rehearsing for a show in PS122, and he was interning in the same venue in a different room. I’d noticed him and I’d not been able to speak to him (this is in late June 1993) because I was waylaid in conversation with someone else; I then lost track of him at that moment. And then three days later, on Sunday the 27th of June 1993, between 3.00 and 4.00 p.m. at 150 Waverly Place in New York City (at Gay Street), I noticed him sitting on a railing… And I came up to him, and I said: “I saw you at PS 122.” And he said: “Yes, I’ve been interning there.”

And we’re still together. And I hope we can carry on being together, because this coming October—November, I’m sorry—my visa runs out, and he may or may not be able to follow me, to go live in London if we have to go live in London. In any case it’s an enormous upheaval, obviously, because we have 10 years of life and friends and contacts and belongings here. But who knows, we might be here in another eight years, or we might be in London then. God knows, if the immigration laws were fairer, then we’d be right here.

[Cradeaux:] OK. I grew up in Los Angeles, in a suburb called Simi Valley. And I graduated from high school and then I went to Europe, and then I came back and I became in incredibly bored with Los Angeles. And so I decided that I would come to New York, just sort of on a whim. I had a friend who was going to NYU; and under the pretext of visiting her, over winter break I just got on a plane and decided that I would stay once I got here. And I did. I got here and I decided that I liked it, and I started going to school. I went to Strasberg, and then I started working with some theatre companies, and the theatre companies where (you’ve heard this before) Rohan saw me, blah blah blah. We arrived here. And that’s pretty much it. That’s how I got here. L.A. to New York.

I feel very comfortable with Rohan. I’m very happy, I’ve been very happy for many many years. And when we met, I’d only been in New York for about a year and a half and nothing was really settled. I really didn’t know very many people and all that kind of stuff. So apart from just Rohan being in my life, everything has changed completely. So it’s, yeah, it’s radically different, really it’s radically different, absolutely. For the better.

When we first met, I had sort of, I’d gone for about a year trying to find someone that might work for me and that I might work with, and it wasn’t working out. Just dumb little fling, after dumb little fling, after dumb little fling. And finally when we met, I had given up and I said, “OK, you know what? I think you’ve just been looking too hard, so you just need to relax, calm down, and we’ll see what happens.”

And literally about a month after I made that decision—and I did, I followed up on my decision and I stopped looking—hence I came here during the parade alone, just sort of to sit for a few minutes and watch. And it was at that moment, when I was sort of open and accessible, that someone came along and approached me, and it was, it was the right way, the right time to do it.

But now there’s no, there’s no tense feelings. There’s none of this “Oh, is something gonna work? Is something gonna work out? Am I going to have romance? Am I going to be fulfilled in that way?” All of that has been taken care of. So my feeling now is just that everything has improved, matured, sophisticated.

[Rohan:] Well, funnily enough, I too had for the first time come to that particular Gay Pride parade thinking “I am not really gonna expect or want or look for anybody”, because I too had looked in various places at various times, and stuff hadn’t really ultimately worked out. Though when we then did meet, I wasn’t altogether calm. I did a very good act of being calm, a very good act of not bringing tension into it, but it was an act initially. Having said which, I had no greater hope for this than for various others that were vaguely possible/promising to begin with and then turned out not to be a match you know, really at all. I had on two previous occasions, I would say, been in love; I would have used the word “love” a couple of times. Once was for about five months in 1986 through 1987. And once was just for a month or so in 1990. So it had been about three years since that time. They were both in London. (And by the way, I neglected to say that I’m from London, in case the accent has disappeared to the extent that you wouldn’t guess—and therefore I’m the foreigner.)

But yeah, so when Cradeaux and I did seem to carry on working, at least no more uncertainly or tensely than anyone else had with me for the first few weeks, I just went with it and thought, “Is this gonna carry on? Is this gonna carry on?” I was pretty sceptical, of course, but: is it going to? And lo and behold, it did. So, great! So we’re up and running, and after I think probably eight or nine months, we were deciding that living together would be the right deal.

Maybe I’m skipping. I should say that I think we said “love”, I used the word “love” about three weeks after we met. I think it was about three weeks. [Cradeaux:] You asked me to marry you. [Rohan:] That was slightly after then, I think, but yes I did. [Cradeaux:] It was about two months after, I think. [Rohan:] OK. Yeah. Yeah. [Cradeaux:] And I said no. But I didn’t say no because I wanted to break up. It was just sort of— [Rohan:] He’s not the marrying kind. [Cradeaux:] Not the marrying kind. [Rohan:] Um, so!… Yeah, actually it was the right decision in a sense, because me wanting to marry him was that last little vestige in me of a kind of putting-the-cart-before-the-horse, or a faint touch of directorialness, or at least a very faint tendency to effect the symptoms of a situation in order to persuade myself that the situation really was there; see what I mean? It was a mild error, if it was an error. It was a— [Cradeaux:] It wasn’t an error. And he gave me a little ring. [Rohan:] Yeah. Which was only sort of, it wasn’t really— [Cradeaux:] It wasn’t a diamond ring or anything. It wasn’t the marriage thing. [Rohan:] It was just a ring-ring. “Ring-ring, ring-ring!” “You can ring my bell…”

So yeah, that was, as I say, three weeks, two months. And then living together, we decided after nine or 10 months. Actually did move in at the beginning of August 1994. Yeah, August the first. So it was fractionally over a year, a year and a month, or thereabouts. And before we moved in, I thought, “This is going to be a real hassle”—not because of him in particular, but because in general I’d heard from people who, when they first moved in, had found that it was tense, there were things to negotiate in terms of space and all the rest of it. [Cradeaux:] That’s because you’ve always lived alone, right? Is That right? [Rohan:] The fact that I have usually lived alone means that I had less experience of living with someone else, that’s right, on which I could have formed, maybe, instead perhaps a positive model of it. [Cradeaux:] Mm-hm. [Rohan:] But in a sense, it’s no bad thing, I guess, that I had no specifically positive model of it, because that meant that I was extra-careful, and I’m sure you were being very careful as well.

And it turned out that there was really no hassle. It was lovely, there was no significant hassle, you know—at least nothing personal, just the regular hassles of moving and of setting up a new place. No doubt it was helpful that we were going to somewhere entirely new, rather than his place or my place. Seven years living together; eight years being together. Yeah. [Cradeaux:] We met exactly eight years ago. [Rohan:] Yeah. [Cradeaux:] Today. [Rohan:] I’ve been, it’s been very lucky. Very lucky. We’ve lived together in one place only, which is where we still are, which is on Norfolk and Houston Street in the East Village. And it’s beautiful. [Cradeaux:] Mm.

So I guess the first time I thought or I really felt that it was gonna be a problem being with someone from another country was probably just a couple of months ago, even though there were scares, now I remember, there were scares maybe two or three years ago. [Rohan:] ’98. [Cradeaux:] ’98. Because that’s when you were doing your second visa. And I don’t know, maybe it was just because you seemed rather confident about it. It wasn’t, at least from the outside, it didn’t seem like a big problem. But this time it really does, because now I know, I know way too much about immigration law just from hearing about it, that, you know, it’s all or nothing now, because I guess the next step has to be much larger than the other steps beforehand. And there’s more at stake and it’s much more difficult. So probably about two months ago was when we first started talking seriously about this next step and how it might really be a problem. So, yeah, so I guess it’s only been about two months. Because when we first got together, I never thought about it. I didn’t think about visas or green cards or any of that junk, you know—who does? And it’s very, I mean, if we had met in England and if I were in England, then I could just stay there.

I go from one extreme to the next. I mean, I get very angry sometimes. I get very angry about a lot of aspects of America, particularly this one because it really impacts me, and how backward they are towards same-sex relationships that America is, compared to England and other countries in Europe. But yeah—

[Someone dumps a garbage sack right beside us.] (OK!…)

Yeah, sometimes I get very, very, very, very, very angry. It’s unconscionable that I should have to completely change my life, just because my partner happens to be my same sex. And it really pisses me off sometimes. And then again, I think, well, at least if I do have to go, it’ll be London, which is a nicer place to go than, say, Saudi Arabia or something—you know, there’s some luck involved there. But yeah, it’s not right. It’s not right. And I feel put upon, I feel wronged, I really do. Not just for me, but also for him as well.

[Rohan:] Partly because I have lived for 10 years with playing an immigration game of one kind or another—hopping from a B2 visa to an A2 visa to an H1B visa, now trying to get an O1 visa—the whole scenario is a very long-standing one. And therefore, yes, in a kind of background way I’m angry, but I’m also, on the surface, seeing it as just yet another little thing in a string of things we have to jump through. If we actually do have to go live in London, then that will come home more. Luckily, as Cradeaux says, it’s a great place to go to. In fact for me this is now 10 years into a kind of immigration saga. So I don’t have the immediacy of red-bloodedness boiling inside me about it. It just comes on the end of a sequence of B2 visa, then A2 visa, then H1B visa as a fashion model (which was kind of a bullshit visa, I didn’t really do much modelling but I did enough to get it); and now that’s coming to an end, I’m going for an O1 visa. So this is just yet another little stage in the saga. There was a genuinely dodgy moment when I was revalidating the H1B visa, about in summer ’98; but this is most definitely, yes, it’s the dodgiest of all. It’ll no doubt hit home when we actually have to start packing our belongings up into boxes or subletting our apartment, or all that good stuff, and when we actually go to London. A little part of me thinks that it’s fun to go to a new city; but the larger part of me, trust me, would much rather stay exactly where I am and have neither of us be uprooted. So there it is.

I investigated becoming a student, but quickly found that my 10 years’ residence here in America on various legitimate other visas would give the lie to any claim I might make concerning my intention to return home to the UK immediately after my studies were finished. They wouldn’t give me one for that reason.

And I toyed with the idea, for about two and a half seconds, of being illegal. But that’s not gonna happen because if you’re illegal, then once you leave the country, as I eventually would have to (if only to see my parents, for example, back in England), then you never get back into this country. So that’s not an option.

I considered for a few minutes a phony straight marriage, but that is really far too dangerous. And it endangers the woman in question as well. She can be fined up to a quarter of a million and she can be imprisoned—quite aside from me being booted out never to return. Which is not to say, of course, that many many straight marriages that are completely phony don’t occur every year; we all know that they do. And the argument that gay marriages would be as abusable as straight ones doesn’t mean that just as many gay ones aren’t real. You know, there’s the same proportion of real and one or two phony that will sneak in, for gay as for straight. So they’d be equally legitimate, if it were to be introduced in this country that permanent partners should be able to come on in.

[Cradeaux:] There hasn’t been a firm decision yet. I could do many things. I could go, I could go to London, I could live there legally and work there fine with Rohan. I could also stay in New York. I could go to Los Angeles, where I’m from. Those are basically the three, the three viable things that I could do. So basically my options are really open, because I could choose to go to England if I wanted to, and I could live there legally, and I could live there permanently if I’m in a domestic partnership with Rohan. Whereas he doesn’t have the same option here. You know, so there’s that one thing—but then again, it’s a whole ’nother country. It’s a whole different thing. And, you know, my life would be completely different, and all of that business.

So it looks like that’s what I’m gonna do. But I’m gonna do it only because I want to stay with Rohan. I’m not gonna do it because I have a love of England. You know, London is an OK city, but New York is my home. And especially with the kind of work that—I mean I’m an actor and all that kind of stuff, and there aren’t that many places that I can live and work and do what I want to do. And London, quite frankly, falls very short of the mark, regarding my career. So it’s a challenge and it’s a big toss-up, I had to really think about it long and hard, and I’m still thinking about it long and hard. But it looks like London is, is the, the thing.

[Rohan:] The question about acting actually applies to me too, briefly, because I also am involved in pursuing acting, especially on film and TV. And I’ve had some luck in that direction. But if I were to have to go to London—yes, a lot of TV happens, but it takes five or 10 years of working your way into the system, like it does here. There’s not nearly as much film that takes place there. So basically we’re talking about a pair of careers that are pretty much place-specific, very much tied to certain places. And that’s an enormous hassle. It’s not as if one’s career were, for example, in the restaurant business, which occurs equally in London as in New York. It so happens, here we have rather place-specific careers. So that’s another extra hassle element of the whole thing.

[Cradeaux:] My feelings change from day to day. One day I’m really gung-ho to go, and the next day I absolutely don’t want to. And there’s really nothing in the middle, you know? I mean, the whole situation is very dramatic, and my feelings toward it are dramatic on either side, especially as the weeks keep passing; that feeling just fluctuates more and more. And the same day, I can wake up and feel that yeah, it’d be great to go. And then by the evening I think, oh God, what a piece-of-shit situation. Well, in November, if Rohan has to leave, then I will go. I’ll go, uh, yeah, I’ve, I’ve pretty much, I’ve committed at least a year to be there with him. And I won’t fall short of that year. So even if I despise it, I will stay for the year and I’ll do my best there. That’s what will happen.

[Rohan:] Well, first of all I’m hoping to get an O1 visa as a screen actor before November, and I may or may not succeed in that. So assuming I haven’t got that, I will indeed choose London. I could, by the way, choose anywhere else in the world. I don’t have to go to London, but— [Cradeaux:] Well, only Europe, right? You can’t go to China. [Rohan:] Well no, but I mean the only thing that America wants is for me to be outside America. They wouldn’t care if I had a six-month trip to China followed by a six-month spell in Antarctica. But I suffer from cold very easily, so Antarctica I knew was ruled out from the very beginning. And not speaking Chinese also is a big hindrance in China. So yeah, it pretty much in effect was tied down to the English-speaking nations. And we had an Empire at one time, you know, but it crumbled. Sorry, that’s a different topic.

But no, when I go to London, I will make the best of it, absolutely, if I have to. I will be cognisant that I will have, to some extent, had to sacrifice certain career things, mostly probably film things; and I will treat it sort of as an adventure. In a way, one aspect of it is less of a hardship for me because I came from there and I know it like the back of my hand and it will be, I’m from that culture. So for each of us there are subtly different difficulties and hassles involved—but comparable, very comparable.

For me, in a nutshell, it’s that I have 10 years of friends and contacts built up here. And although one is able to go out and meet people in London and make friends etc., there are ripened, time-tested, valued friends who are here, friends I’ve known for literally 10 years. And it’s not something you can just go and, you know, find those people just by going out. So it’s just the long-standing, long-term fermenting of a group of friends, and the cream rises to the top and it’s nice to be surrounded by 10 years’ worth of that. That would be it, basically, for me.

[Walking together, ending up at the railing outside 150 Waverly Place, where we first spoke exactly eight years earlier.]

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Rohan Quine's Immigration Adventures 56

2. Transcription (25’03”-53’32”) of the second interview, on 25 September 2001: Rohan in a bar at 3 Orchard Street (in a building that’s now gone), Chinatown

[Rohan:] I read a statistic the other day. I think a bunch of high-school-age people were asked basically, in some form, how cool they were with gay people and gayness in general. And also a bunch of their parents were asked; the same number of their parents. And it was very promising because basically, to simplify it, I think I remember reading that two-thirds of the high-school-aged people were absolutely fine, and one-third of the parents were absolutely fine. Even that one-third of course is better than it had been in previous generations. But that’s a good progression, in just in this last generation. And I’m sure it’s to do with things like the stuff we see on TV, partly. That’s just being gay, itself. Whereas in the whole macho, gender-presentation thing, I guess that’s probably still a bit backwards. America is a slightly more macho country than England, for example. So yeah, with the proviso that any kind of non-masculinity is still a bit taboo here, it’s definitely going in the right direction.

Well, the problem is that it’s so big. The country comprises these 50 states. And the slow states, the slow-to-learn states, drag along like a sack of potatoes after the states that are less slow-to-learn like California and New York. And federal law inevitably—correctly, in a sense—has to take account of all the states. It’s understandable, it’s part of the way the Union is set up. But in a way, it’s slightly regrettable that there are so many, that the slow ones slow down the fast ones.

So it’s getting there. There is the legislation that’s attempting to go through the House at the moment, introduced by Jerrold Nadler, the P.P.I.A. And I was wondering this morning whether that will have been slowed down by the recent disaster at the World Trade Center [9/11] and the recent surge of American flags and so forth, because on the whole, in a war situation a country kind of tends to become, in some senses, more conservative. And I fear that may perhaps be happening. But on the other hand, that will slightly be offset, we hope, by the fact that gay Americans, straight Americans, they would all fly those flags, they would all go off to war, they would all help. So maybe there’ll be some solidarity there. Having, say, a gay co-worker or friend or friend-of-a-friend is just less of a big deal generally. So not too specific, just sort of less of a big deal, not so much news.

Well, I’m not a lawyer, but the basic summary of it is: if you have grounds for seeking asylum, that’s one. And coming from Britain, I can’t quite claim that the oppressive regime of Tony Blair is … you know, not that oppressive really. Or job sponsorship: either directly for a green card (which I can’t quite attain yet, you have to be very high standard); or for a kind of visa, a temporary working visa below that level (that’s what I’m going for). For example, I’ve been on this H1B visa as a model for six years, and that finishes this coming November. So I’m currently applying for an O1 visa. But the standards of that are pretty high; they keep raising the standards, they keep making it slightly more difficult to attain those standards.

On the 14th of March the INS convened a meeting of representatives of all the performers’ unions here in New York, which I read about in a paper. And basically the purpose of that meeting was to instruct those unions to be less lenient in their granting of letters of support for applications for these visas. So I did manage to assemble an application; but it really stands about a 50/50 chance of making the grade, because I’ve had a few small speaking parts in film and TV, but I reckon that’s a 50/50 chance, it needs to ideally be a bit more. But it might get through, we’ll see.

And finally there is a relative’s visa; getting married, for example. That wouldn’t apply to me because, although I have entered into a domestic partnership with Cradeaux, the problem comes because in 1996, I think it was, Clinton signed DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which established for ever more that “marriage” for purposes of immigration must be between a man and a woman. I like Clinton, but it’s a shame he did that. So those are the options, really: asylum; job; and relative, including marriage. It’s not that easy to get in, really, is the bottom line.

In terms of sponsorship through a company: that’s either for a green card, or for a temporary non-immigrant visa which is below the level of a green card. And to get a green card you really have to be very much top in your field. To get a temporary non-immigrant visa—such as an H1B visa like I’ve had, or an O1 visa like I’m applying for—you have to be supposedly somewhat prominent, but not super-prominent. So it’s all very difficult, basically. Some people can make it happen and others can’t.

An option that straight people have, that gay people don’t, is if they’re in a legitimate long-term relationship, they can get married; a foreign national can get married to the U.S. National and thereby legitimately get a green card as a relative of a US citizen. But unfortunately, if you’re in a gay relationship—even one of eight or eight-and-a-half years like I’m in (luckily)—then you can’t, because it’s set up that male-and-female is the way to go, with a federal application of that “spouse” definition.

In terms of the reason for this discrepancy, I don’t suppose it’s particularly deliberately set up. It just wasn’t conceived of, when the laws were written a long time ago; they were not written with this in mind, because in those days there was just no hope of this being recognised. On the other hand, DOMA was definitely deliberate, very deliberate; and that was a shame. That was, in the ’90s, the Defense of Marriage Act was a law from ’96 or ’97 under Clinton, which established in no uncertain terms that for purposes of immigration, “spouse” meant man or woman, not two people of the same sex. Because people were maybe hoping that it could be stretched to that, because the language otherwise was slightly ambiguous. But no, this made it very unambiguous. So that was a bit of a bummer.

What now needs to happen, I guess, is that more and more people in the House of Representatives need to be encouraged to sign on to the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, Jerrold Nadler’s Act. I think at the moment it’s 80-something of them who have; and I believe it’s something like 235 who are required, who will be required to, if this Act is to go through. That’s just the House; there will then be the Senate; and I’m sure George W. Bush, if he’s in the White House, will veto it, even if it comes through the Senate. But maybe he won’t be there, by the time it gets there. Maybe by the time it gets to his desk, it will no longer be his desk, but instead the desk of someone more forward-looking in that respect.

In slow, geological time, changes in what society is able to accept are reflected, yeah, in laws. It’s just a painfully slow process for that to take place. But yeah, we’ve seen it and it’ll carry on happening, I’m sure. And I guess the reason why it’s important to recognise same-sex couples is not just because it’s a nice thing and please do it; it’s because immigration is, supposedly it claims to be set up, especially in this country of all countries, it claims to be set up to be fair and equitable to all. And it claims to unify families; it claims that the great concept of the family (“How’s the family?”) is the sacred thing that should be kept together. Well, duh. What we need to show is that this is a family, two people: I and my boyfriend are a family of two, just like there are families that do not have kids. I have zero interest in children, as it happens, but that’s a different story. There are plenty of straight couples who also have zero interest in children, and they’re still families, are they not, under immigration law? And they should be recognised as that, because there is a committed relationship going on. In my case it’s been eight and a half years, and even if it had been only a couple of years, it should be seen as valid, obviously.

The Permanent Partners Immigration Act, P.P.I.A., which it’s been proposed to call “Papaya”, is an act that was introduced by Jerrold Nadler, Representative from New York, Democrat, on Saint Valentine’s Day, the Feast of Saint Valentine, in the year 2000, and then reintroduced on the same day in the year 2001. And it would very simply seek to add “or permanent partner” (I’m pretty sure that’s what it would add)—“or permanent partner”—to every occurrence of the word “spouse” in the current law. So it’s very simple. It would sweep in the kind of change we’ve been talking about. And as I say, I think it’s had 80-something sponsors, co-sponsors, supporters in the House at the moment, the House of Representatives, and I think it needs about 235 or thereabouts to get through. And then it would have to go through the Senate, and then it would have to make it past the President’s desk. So maybe it will, in a few years’ time.

So for example, for me, if the P.P.I.A. were passed, my current domestic partnership with Cradeaux would simply be counted as it should be, as the kind of signifier of the kind of family that the immigration laws were written with in mind. And I would thereby be eligible for the same kind of relative-based, spouse-based immigration benefits. And of course I would have to prove at least a couple of years of vacation photos and details about bills and God knows what they want to see—documentation, which is difficult to fake. And indeed we wouldn’t need to fake it, we would have much more of that than we would need, and it would be very above board and very legit. So that would simply go forward. And that would mean that I would not now at this moment be contemplating a 50% likelihood that in one-and-a-half months’ time, on the 15th of November, I will be compelled, without my choosing it, to exit this country and go back to Britain and live in London after 10 years of amassing contacts and a career and friends here in New York. As it happens, I am equally pleased about the idea of going to London or staying here, because I am ready for a change anyway. I am likewise likely to go to L.A.

So, aside from all this abstraction, of course the direct effect of this law, the P.P.I.A., if it were passed, for me, would be that I wouldn’t have to leave the country by the 15th of November coming up. Which I will have to do if my O1 visa as a screen actor is not successful, which I think is 50% likely. I will have to be leaving in that case after 10 years of building up friends, contacts, career, everything, and I’d be leaving without choosing to. So, as it happens, I am ready for a change from New York as Cradeaux and I are talking about going to Los Angeles if I do get the visa. So I’m very on for a change from New York. And I would enjoy London itself equally as I would enjoy L.A., but that’s not really the point, is it, because he wants to go to L.A. I want to go to L.A. with him because he’ll be there, and both of us do because of the film stuff that happens there. So yeah, I will have a fabulous time in London, but that’s just lucky, I think, in my particular case. It should not be that I’m compelled to make such a move, after 10 years of legitimately being here, as that. That would be the direct human effect of what we’re talking about.

And let’s remember that in, I think it’s 15 other countries right now, this great lameness does not exist. Countries like Australia and New Zealand and South Africa and England and Sweden and Canada and a few more, Holland of course, a few others. And it’s time that America caught up, and the numerous people here who do support this are rightly slightly embarrassed that it’s not caught up. But what can they do? They have the others here, who are not so enlightened, to contend with, to be, as I said before, dragged along like a sack of potatoes and slow the whole progress of everything down. But maybe it’ll eventually happen. In these other countries, the rules all vary slightly. But the bottom line is that some form of same-sex-relationship-based immigration activity is permitted—in some countries more than in others, but in all of them, in all of those 15 to some extent, that’s the basic simple picture of it. Which is not the case here. So there it is. Pretty simple. Doesn’t take much rectification. It would be easy. Should be easy.

[The fridge starts humming.] Fridge chipping in there.

So yeah, in terms of organisations, there is an organisation here called the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, which is set up to help people in my position, in couples one of whom is foreign and one of whom is U.S. And secondly, also they help, well they try and help, it’s difficult, people who are HIV-positive, whom the law is also discriminating against in some ways. And people who are seeking asylum in this country as well, because they come from countries where they are either to be sentenced to death or being gay, which happens, notably in the Middle East etc. That’s a good group that are doing a lot of good things.

So yeah, I first met Cradeaux on Sunday the 27th of June in 1993. That was the Gay Pride parade. And I saw him sitting outside 150 Waverly Place in the West Village, We met on the day of the Gay Pride march, which was a nice place to meet. And after 11 months we moved in together and we’ve been in the same place ever since August ’94. And I’m very lucky—and so is he! Just my best friend that I spend a hell of a lot of time with, and someone with whom of course I’ve built up all kinds of shared history of humour and shared history of thinking and shared history of attitudes and shared stuff, you know, that’s just fun to go through and comfortable to inhabit. That’s the main thing, I guess.

Well, so far together for our eight and a half years, there was the one year living in two different apartments and then there was the seven years living together. Before we moved in, I was pessimistically thinking it was gonna be a real hassle to live with someone because I’d heard that it tends to be. And therefore, the actual reality of it, I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t so much of a hassle.

All this whole question is relevant to me, of course, because I am not in a straight relationship that could simply get married and get a green card. I have to jump through burning hoops, with work visas and so forth. Whereas in fact, the eight-and-a-half-year relationship by itself should be enough, under the immigration law idea of unification of family, you know, we should be kept together for that reason. My immigration status right now is that I’m coming up to the very end of a six-year H1B visa as a model. And that will be finishing on the 15th of November. So I need to get something before that finishes, if I’m to stay in this country. I could get another H1B visa after being a year abroad. So that’s why I’m wanting to go for a different kind of visa, so I don’t have to spend the year abroad. You know, there are many arbitrary rules like that that one has to address.

I suppose the main thing is that Cradeaux and I are thinking much more about going to L.A. if I do get the visa. I think he is also feeling that he will try L.A. even if I don’t get the visa. So we will temporarily split in different directions. The thinking behind this is that it could very well be that after a year abroad I do get a visa and come back here, in which case I can join him. It could equally be that he hates being in L.A. and wants to leave it, in which case he’ll come join me in Britain, which he can. Or it could conceivably be, we’re aware, that our different careers in London and New York just keep us in those separate places. So again, it’s rather an exciting mystery at the moment, what’s gonna happen. We don’t want to split and we’re not intending to split, but we are aware that there is that possibility that we will be split by this. ’Cos London really formed no part of his career ideas and actually not really so much of mine either.

We love each other very much. There’s also a quality of independence in our relationship, which I think has partly kept it so healthy and nice over eight and a half years. We’re each separately, we’re each kind of whole by ourselves as well. He has said in no uncertain terms that we’re not splitting. So we’re both just able to accommodate the idea of a significant but not huge separation of some kind. Also, if either of us are particularly successful, enough to be wanting to stay there in those separate places, then maybe that level of success that would lead to that desire to stay separate would actually be a level of success that would’ve brought us enough money to utilise this planet’s aircraft system on a regular basis. That’s our thinking.

I’m rather excited, to be going somewhere. I do not know which direction, west or east. If I go east, it’ll be by November 15th. If I go west to L.A. with Cradeaux, that will be the end of December. So there’s a one-and-a-half-month difference in the timing with which I would go in whatever direction. But other than that, you know, it’s so crazily balanced at the moment. I’m 50/50 between London and L.A., not 50/50 between Cradeaux and no-Cradeaux, but between London and L.A. as cities, I’m 50/50 at the moment, to move to. And it’s also a 50/50 likelihood that I’ll be given the visa. So there’s a very strange kind of balance happening at the moment. It feels like I’m in the eye of a storm, because these are life-changing things, and yet here am I sitting feeling emotionally unperturbed by them. It’s very strange.

We are here in a ghetto of tolerance called Manhattan, and in particular Downtown Manhattan, and in particular the East Village. So it’s not like most of America. It’s an extraordinarily cosmopolitan place, compared to most of America. So luckily, directly on us, not much effect of discrimination has been felt. But there are many, many people who, for example, because their children cannot move out of horrendous places that they’re in, whereby they really are being beaten up every day. There are these statistics about how five times as many gay kids try and kill themselves as straight kids. And that’s been a statistic that’s been around for a long time and re-proved in a number of different surveys. That doesn’t seem quite fair, somehow.

There’s only one way I’m not in control, and that is knowing which direction I’m headed, east or west. And that’s kind of fun. It’s just one huge single simple thing that I’m not in control of. But, you know, I’m very, very lucky in every other respect right now; life is being extremely kind to me. The fact that it’s some unknown person in an office making that decision between east and west for me, between L.A. and London, is kind of funny actually. It’s nice that I’ll never know who that person is. I will never meet them. They will never see this film, almost certainly they will never see us now, I mean. So there’s a strange disjunct, a strange disconnect going on between me and them. And yet a meaningful relationship has been established in terms of cause and effect, you know. It’s just ironic, it’s funny.

So the possibility of separation, either temporary or conceivably indefinite, from Cradeaux is of course a big prospect. And yet for both of us, in a funny kind of way, we are just very fatalistic about it. We will do precisely what we can to balance outside pressures and influence (from the law and the visa and where the film ministry is located etc.) and also internal preferences of both of us being very independently concerned with our careers in one way or another. And yet, both concerned with each other too. So there’s a very healthy, plain, clear mix of genuine simple affection and love for each other, and also genuine simple affectionate self-love for what we’re doing and who we are. I think, to a rather fortunately, goldenly equal extent, there is both in him and in me the sense that yes, we should give great consideration to the other person, but that does not mean completely throwing away a career, for example.

Because after all, very few things are finally irreversible. And even if we are temporarily split for a year or more, it could be that at some point in the future, things will change. This law may pass; we may be able to marry in four years’ time and then, hey presto, we’ll have more options. We may get lots of money; we may not. One of us may get sick of the one place and go join the other. There is a fluidity. So I guess it may seem slightly strange, but it feels very natural that we are both lovingly concerned with the other’s situation, but also fitly upholding of our own dreams. And finally, the third and final element in that equation is that we know we can only affect so much. You know, for example, we can’t change the law overnight; there’s an example of what we can’t affect. And so we can only do X-Y-Z but we can’t do A-B-C. And so long as we’ve done X-Y-Z that we can do, which we have (research, looking at all the options)—everything we can do, we’ve done. So the rest is—whew!—fate and meant to happen.

Yeah, I mean, the whole thing pisses me off. Although after 10 years of being aware of it, it’s a kind of abstract pissing-off, you know. It’s not less, but I can’t sit here exploding with emotional voltage about it after 10 years of being aware of all the loopholes. For one thing, I’ve had to delve so precisely into different aspects of different visas and so forth. Yeah, I’m, I’m definitely upset with the whole thing, yeah. Although it’s kind of a general part of the background fact of life, and also an interesting challenge to work around.

So the one option that’s open to straight couples that’s not open to gay couples is that they can say to themselves, OK, here we are, we’re in love, we’re together, and that’s beautiful. And we can have that recognised and used for a legitimate immigration benefit. Whereas a gay couple’s relationship—equally beautiful, equally sacred, equally silly, equally all the other things that a straight relationship is—cannot have those benefits accrue to it. So there’s an inequality. It’s pretty damn simple. And the P.P.I.A. law that’s being pushed through right now, hopefully, is very simple law. It’s just a tiny linguistic change. I believe it would add the phrase “or permanent partner” immediately after every occurrence of the word “spouse” in the currently existing rules. It’s one of the simplest pieces of legislation ever proposed, I would hazard, therefore.

So in a sense you could say that this love that I have is not recognised. And that would seem like just part of the general unidealness of life; but there are many ideal parts of life as well. So, you know, I will simply recognise that this is an area in which the forces of societal development have added up to a kind of cluelessness. But there are many other ways in which they’ve added up to a good thing. I’m extremely lucky in many ways. This is just one strange, peculiar little twist of the way the law affects me, which is just out of left field. It’s very strange. So yeah, it pisses me off. But it’s so stupid and so particular, that I just feel like swatting it away like a stupid little mosquito. And it will be swatted. It’s just that the swat will take quite a lot of work by more than one person over more than one year, probably. But the swat will be effected, I think. Here’s to the swat. We’re the swat team!

In thinking whether there’s anything to add, I would simply suggest, to anybody who’s still in doubt about it, that gay love is a beautiful thing, and gay sex is beautiful and gay friendship is beautiful and gay people are beautiful, and so are straight ones, too. All the straight counterparts of theirs are equally beautiful. I believe there’s quite a few people that still don’t quite realise that, but it really is true. That’s all I would add.

* * *

Rohan Quine's Immigration Adventures 66

3. Transcription (53’32”-80’55”) of the third interview, in late October 2001: Cradeaux on the roof of our apartment building, 190 Norfolk Street, East Village, where we’d lived since August 1994

[Cradeaux:] I’d say it’s become less of a deal—socially, I mean. Just the people that I know and the place that I live. It doesn’t really seem to be any kind of an issue, until something weird happens—and something weird does happen. Last year, Rohan was beat up, just for being gay, when I was with him. So that was a real shock to me, because I really didn’t think that people still would do something like that. So that actually was shocking. And I thought that things had got better, and I think they probably have, but I think that there’s always gonna be these moments where violence and weirdness pops up just out of nowhere. And I’m not even sure if it’s really directed toward someone who is just gay, or if it’s just because they’re different or what not. But I don’t know. I mean, when I was growing up, it was very horrible because everybody at—I mean, school was a whole different situation. And then that was really terrible. And then I finally came to New York and it seemed like a great haven, and it seemed very accepting and very, very tolerant.

And I think generally it is, but I think that’s just New York. I don’t think that the same thing holds true for the rest of America. I think the majority of America is still very backward. When they do think about it, they think about it as something “other”. I’m very aware of, you know, kids growing up in Kansas, just hating and detesting life and wanting to get out, because it’s just awful. And I’ve heard terrible, terrible horror stories. And then Matthew Shepard etc. etc. So I think it’s pretty volatile. I mean, the situation is pretty volatile. It seems very normal; and then suddenly these bursts of violence pop up and I don’t really know how to make the two fit together. I feel generally safe, I feel generally OK. It’s not an issue in my daily life until something bizarre happens. And that does happen, very, very occasionally.

So I would, I mean, I wasn’t around in the ’60s, but from what I understand, the ’60s were probably more free and more accepting than it is now. I don’t think there’s really been a major difference, at least in my estimation, in the past five or 10 years than from how I knew New York when I first came here. I’m so apolitical, but I’m aware of politicians, of gay politicians. And that’s probably a newish thing, and a progression. This coming-out business actually has happened with politicians, who have to be the most conservative bunch of people that America can offer—politicians. Right. And a few of them actually have come out and been normal and they’ve done good positive things. So yeah, it’s, it’s getting there. It’s getting there.

But, then, what was it, in Vermont: I think it was last year in Vermont, they had the domestic partner bill was passed in Vermont. And I thought, fantastic. Of course. And then the very next day I was watching the news and a senator or something from Vermont said, “This is a very sad day in Vermont’s history.” So I said, “OK, OK.” You know, politicians are politicians; and if they’re gonna change, it’s a slow, glacial change. I think they probably are. I don’t really know if the conservative aspect of politics is ever gonna change so much that it’s even gonna be a good or normal or regular place for out gay people to even want to be involved, because it is just so stodgy. It’s really, really, really stodgy. Comparing America to somewhere like England, it’s completely backward. Horribly, horribly draconian. And I don’t really get it. You know, if I’m in England, then I know that I can live there, fine. And I have the same rights as anybody else does in terms of marriage or what not, immigration etc. So I guess compared to England, America is light years behind; but compared to Romania, it’s light years ahead.

I think the biggest changes for gays in America have taken place probably just on the very day-to-day levels. Being able to just walk on the streets and not be afraid. Not having to explain oneself, which I think is the best thing. It not becoming so much of an issue really, that people talk about.

’Cos it doesn’t need to be talked about. It’s ridiculous. I mean, that’s a hundred years ago, that might have been something to talk about, but it doesn’t need to be talked about. So, that. And the inclusion of sexual orientation within—what is it, when you get a job and you can’t be discriminated against because of race, colour, creed, and they added sexual orientation—that was a good thing. But again, that’s too little, too late. I mean, I think that climate was already happening before they actually had to write the words in stone. So, I think safety, probably safety, just being able to be safe; and not having to explain oneself.

For a non-American, for a non-American living in America: they can get married, to someone of the opposite sex. They could jump from visa to visa to visa to visa. They can fake a student visa. They can live underground. And I know a lot of people, especially from Ireland, who don’t have any kind of immigration status at all; they’re basically illegal and they just work under the table. People of different sexes can come together and get married and live and work and do whatever they want, and people of the same sex can’t. I guess that’s it, in a nutshell. Pure and simple. It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. It’s discrimination. It’s way behind the times. And it affects my life in ways that it doesn’t need to. It shouldn’t. That’s not the job of government. The job of government is not to split people apart who actually do love each other. I don’t know why America makes that distinction between gay people and straight people. I have no idea. I have zero idea. I can’t fathom why. The only thing that I can maybe make a stab at is that Christianity; I mean, this country was founded by very puritanical individuals. And I guess that’s still being carried over.

Well, as long as gay people do not have the same complete rights as straight people do, then they will be considered less than, and they will still be considered something unusual. They’ll still be considered something bizarre. They’ll still be objects of scorn. They will still be easy targets. I think that the whole distinction between gay couples and straight couples is just there. It is just like that in politicians’ tendencies, American politicians’ tendencies. And I’m not quite sure if it has anything particularly to do with immigration. I mean, I know that America has a long history of weird immigration policies and keeping certain people out and letting other people in etc. etc. But I don’t know what they’re thinking. So I really couldn’t even conjecture why. I should have the same rights as anyone else. So I guess I’m sometimes angry, but just mostly I think that it’s, not just for me but for everyone, it’s just a big step backward for society, a big step backward for everyone in general. And for me personally, you know, it makes me sick.

Where does the resistance come from? Right-wing politicians, no one else. That’s it. They make the laws, pure and simple. There’s no vote. So it’s not as if Americans can vote on these particular things. They have to go to the politicians. And that’s it. And I dunno what’s going on in their heads, but it’s just them. It’s a very small group of people who are determining what I can and can’t do.

Yeah. I mean, the thing is that I don’t particularly want to get married. It’s not that I haven’t—I don’t really have this big desire to get married with ceremonies and what not. The only reason why we need it and why we want it and why we have to have it is so that people who are in love aren’t split up. That’s the only reason. And I know plenty of heterosexual couples who don’t want to get married either. They don’t need to get married, it doesn’t matter. They can just stay here. And if they are from different countries, they get married just so they can stay here. So, you know, should that be considered a legal marriage, just because they got married so they could stay here? You know, who cares if they’re in love or not? Why shouldn’t anyone be able to do that?

If this bill was passed, then I could not have to worry about this. I could live my life and I wouldn’t have to be—it’s been 10 years—no, it’s been eight years that my boyfriend and I have had to go through this. And every time the renewal of the visa happens, there’s a threat of him being deported. This has been going on year after year after year after year. If this passes, then we can forget about the worry and just live. And we can choose to be where we want to be. If we want to stay here, we’ll stay here. If we want to go somewhere else, we’ll go somewhere else.

I don’t really know what that is in other countries. I haven’t been following that. I know that if I went to England—because my boyfriend is English, and that’s the only reason why I know anything about that—that I could go there and I could be, I dunno what they call it, but I would be a legal partner, I guess they call it that. And I could live and work and pay taxes and do whatever to the Queen, as it were. And with no problem. Why is England so ahead of America? I have no idea. I really don’t know. Maybe because Europe has just been around for a lot longer than America. America’s still young. It still has growing pains. European sensibility seems to be more seen-it-all, done-it-all. The world has gone on for centuries before we even came around. And you know, they don’t care about it, like they shouldn’t care about it. It doesn’t matter. But America is really feisty and slightly reactionary. And they seem to be still, America seems to still be afraid of new things, you know, quote-unquote “new things” and change.

DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, I believe is what it stands for. I remember when President Clinton signed DOMA, to everyone’s chagrin, because he said that he wouldn’t; he said that he would fight for gay rights. And at the final hour, he was presented with DOMA, which is this “Defense of Marriage”—that’s gotta be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life—Defense of Marriage Act. Meaning that if he signed it, then gay people could not become married like straight people could. And he signed it. He dropped the ball. He was a jerk. He signed it. I guess he was pressured; who knows why. But he did. And because of that, he really set everything backward. Because, you know, he was a pretty liberal guy. And now we have Bush; so who knows how long we’re gonna have Bush. And he is never going to work for anything normal and good. He’s just going to keep everything back and back and back. People around the world are still being persecuted for being gay. They’re still being put in jail. They’re still being killed for being gay. And as long as so-called free countries are discriminating against gay people, then it’s just going to make the problems stay longer and longer and longer in other parts of the world.

The first time we met was on—I’m blanking on the name of the street, but it was a Gay Pride parade. And I wasn’t really going to the parade. It was on my way to a rehearsal, and I decided to stop and sort of watch it for a few minutes. And I think I was there for 10 minutes. Well, no, I sat down. I was there for about, you know, just two or three minutes looking around. And then Rohan approached me and we began to talk. And then I said, “Sorry, I have to go to rehearsal now.” And I left five minutes later, and that was it. And then, but he gave me his number and I gave him my number. And then, a few days later, we met up at Benny’s Burritos—right there, six blocks up on Avenue A—sat outside and had sangrias and burritos. And that was our first date. And then we went back to his place. He read me a little bit from his book that he was writing. And that was it. We stayed together, ever since.

What does Rohan mean to me today? Rohan is my best friend. He is my lovely companion. He’s the closest thing to me, person or object. He’s the closest thing to me. He touches me. I love him. Our life together has been, has been wonderful. It’s been—there’s nothing wrong with it. Which is, you know, I don’t know why there’s nothing wrong with it; it seems like every couple has problems and every relationship sort of goes sour or what not. But no, that hasn’t happened. We’ve been—it’s been very supportive. It’s been a very supportive relationship. It’s been a very sexy relationship. It’s been a very, I think probably—well, I guess as I said, probably unique. Though it doesn’t really feel unique, it just feels very special. It’s, everything is good. Everything is great. I could see us going on forever, and I wouldn’t want to change.

Well, we share, I mean we have, you know, very similar ideas about things. We have similar political ideas. We have similar ideas about art. You name it. I mean, of course there are little differences here and there. But he’s a writer, and he was a painter when he was younger, so he—and I’m an artist, and we’re both acting. So our worlds are really interconnected. Though at the same time we do have some separate friends. I make theatre and he’s not in theatre, so he’s not involved in my work on a day-to-day; and I’m not involved in his creations on a day-to-day. Which is nice, it’s a nice sort of gap like that. We can do our own stuff, then come together and we can talk about it and appreciate what each other is doing.

If he can’t keep getting visas, then we have to split, or I have to make a very tough decision and move to England, and I’m not sure if England is the right place for me. So it puts me in a very awkward position. And him as well. It will basically, it could, you know, make or break us, the life that we have together.

I guess I was supposed to always know, because he told me when we first met, that he was only able to stay here because he was working for the government, for the British government in New York. And that his stay in America depended on that job. But, you know, it didn’t really seem to be anything in the front of our minds. I’m sure it was for him, in the back of his head. But for me, since I didn’t really know too much about it, we didn’t talk about it all the time, it hasn’t really become an issue as strong as it is right now, until, I would say just two months ago, when this other visa has run out and he has no other options. So I guess I’ve had my head in the sand for the past, whatever, seven years, until just a few months ago. And it’s been a big, smart kick in the ass.

No, it hasn’t changed our relationship. It’s complicated matters, extremely. And I don’t really know how to judge it yet, because I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I feel very up in the air about everything. But my feelings for him have remained totally intact. If not, more strong, because I know of a possible imminent departure.

Right now, we’re waiting for an O Visa. That’s what we’re waiting for. And it was supposed to have happened. We’re supposed to have got the answer by the first of this month, but didn’t come. And then we just found out a couple of days ago that it might not come until even after the 15th of November, which is the date that he is supposed to leave if he doesn’t get the visa. So now it’s completely messed up, because he would’ve had to go back to England anyway, even if he was gonna get his O visa, to pick it up from wherever the embassy is in England, and then fly back here. That’s ridiculous, but whatever, I guess they want you to pay 600 bucks and fly back and forth. So he was going to do that anyway, but he was gonna do that with the knowledge that he was going to be able to pick up an O visa. But now it looks like he’s gonna have to go there on the 15th and just wait, just hover around in London and wait for a call from his attorneys saying yes or no. Yes you can pick up your O visa, OK great, come back to America, come back to me and we’ll carry on our lives for the next year or three years, depending on how long the visa lasts. But if he doesn’t get it, then that’s it: he’s there, he’s stuck there.

Probably what’s gonna happen is that I’m gonna go to Los Angeles in January, and I want Rohan to come with me. And if Rohan gets an O visa, then he will. If he doesn’t get an O visa, then he’s gonna be in England, and I’m probably going to go to Los Angeles. So we’re probably going have to split at least for a year. But nothing has happened. I mean, we’re still waiting. Well, I still might go to London, but I have to—I’m from Los Angeles originally, and I left L.A. because I wasn’t in a happy place, and I came to New York on a whim, and it’s been great for me. But this year, even before this immigration stuff was going on, the idea had been bubbling in my head to leave New York, at least for a while, and to try Los Angeles, because I’m an actor. And New York is good for me to make theatre in, but it’s not good for me to further my film career because it’s very, there’s nothing happens here in that direction. And I thought that I would give it some time and see how it works out, but it’s not big enough. So the only other place is Los Angeles for that, and that’s the only reason why I would go there.

I don’t think that Los Angeles is a great city. It’s, no, it’s not great. But it has about 10 times as much work there. So that’s why I would go, that’s why I would go to Los Angeles over London. You know, there’s acting work to be had in London; but again, I think it’s also rather small in comparison to Los Angeles, and I haven’t tried it yet. And, you know, I’m still young and I’m still interested in pursuing this stuff, and I figured that I may as well do it now. And with this immigration thing going on, it seems like a good opportunity to do it. It just seems like it’s ripe for a change. Like I’m ripe for a change. I actually went to London, a month or two ago, to look around, just to sort of see what it was like. Again, I’ve been there many times before, but it’s been a few years. And I picked up “Apartments for let” and stuff like that, and I actually saw a couple, just to get a sense of it. And I did like it, I did. In some ways I prefer it to New York. If it had more acting stuff going on, then I would probably just go to London easily.

I feel confident about it, about our, my future with Rohan. I think that no matter where we end up going, that we’ll find a way. Even if we have to live in different places, then we’ll just go back and forth a lot. That’s my feeling right now. And I don’t think that would change.

How would I define a family? Love. We are a family because we love each other. And that’s it, pure and simple. There’s nothing more. You don’t need children, you don’t need anything. I mean, my family, I’m not close to my blood family. I mean, I guess they’re my family, but I don’t require contact with them. I don’t need them for emotional support. I don’t—any of that. So my family, when I came to New York, was first my friends in the theatre; and then it was a boyfriend here or there; and then it became Rohan. So it’s people that I admire and people who will in turn—and that I love—and people who in turn will support and love, love me in return. That’s all.

[End of three interview transcriptions.]

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4. What then happened after these three 2001 interviews

In the above interviews of Cradeaux and me by Elin Jonsson, I said I estimated there was a 50-50 chance of being granted the O1 non-immigrant visa I’d applied for. This was a screen actor’s visa based only upon my own professional work alone—not upon his and my relationship. The reason why my chances of getting an O1 visa were only 50% was because the this was a challenging category of visa to get: my application had to include 10 letters of personal recommendation from 10 well-established film industry people. (Mine contained signed letters of personal recommendation from Ben Stiller, Tom Fontana and eight others in the biz.)

I’d submitted my O1 application months earlier than the immigration authorities had promised would be necessary in order to give them enough time to respond before 15 November 2001—this being the expiry date of my existing non-immigrant H1B visa (as a fashion model) and thus also the date by which I’d be forced to leave the country if the O1 visa were not granted to replace the H1B. I was making sure to allow a big cushion of extra time for those authorities, in case they were slower than they’d promised. It turned out they were ridiculously slower than that: we’d still not heard back from them by the last of the above three interviews, which was recorded only a couple of weeks before 15 November 2001. Throughout the weeks before this date, knowing that I either would or would not have to move to London before the ever-nearing deadline, I had to make detailed plans for leaving the U.S., with all the voluminous practical details this would entail … and at the very same time, I also needed to make detailed plans for moving to L.A. with Cradeaux. For although this latter eventuality would involve less time pressure than moving to London by 15 November, nevertheless he and I would also need to be quick in making any such move to L.A. together, because we’d already had to start terminating our shared lease of our New York apartment, in case an imminent departure to London turned out to be the way the chips fell.

Finally, just a few days before the 15 November deadline when my existing H1B visa expired (I think I recall it was only about three days beforehand), the immigration authorities at last sent me their decision on my O1 visa application … and it chanced to be a “yes”! So we did fly to L.A. after all, now that I was equipped with a screen actor’s O1 that gave me two more years in the country. 31 January 2002 turned out to be the day we flew westward—10 years, five months and one week after I had very first arrived to live in New York City on 24 August 1991.

 

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Rohan Quine's Immigration Adventures 29Above: the street signs for Waverly Place and Gay Street, the intersection where we’d first spoken with each other exactly eight years earlier.

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Rohan Quine's Immigration Adventures 30Above: touching the location, at the railing outside 150 Waverly Place, where we’d very first spoken with each other exactly eight years earlier.

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ROHAN QUINE (photo by Safeena Chaudhry)

ROHAN QUINE (photo by Safeena Chaudhry)

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Film and TV Acting: Those New York ’Nineties

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