Gonzalo and Arturo: Binational Couple in Chicago Engaged to be Married, Joins Campaign to Defeat DOMA
If you really want something, you have to do everything to reach your goal, or you’ll only be watching others succeed.
The first time I met Gonzalo in March 2011, I never thought a relationship between us would be possible; despite the fact that we’re both Latinos, we were living in different countries. Gonzalo was born in Colombia, he is forty-seven, an American citizen who has lived in Chicago for sixteen years. My name is Arturo; I am forty-two. I was living in Yucatán, México, when we met online.
I am anthropologist. Two years ago, I was doing the last year of my masters degree in environmental education science while Gonzalo was working on his research in the Latino community.
At first, we communicated via Skype. We were talking every day, two or three hours every night for approximately three months. We shared our worries and our personal dreams daily. We had had some bad experiences in past relationships, but we both agreed that these experiences made us stronger. Eventually, we started wanting to see each other in person and not just via a web cam. As I couldn’t travel because of my masters degree commitments, Gonzalo decided to visit me in México. He first came to see me in June of 2011 and we spent a wonderful time together. Face to face at last and closer together than ever before, we understood that we were falling in love with each other, day by day.
On the last day before Gonzalo had to go back to the U.S., we talked about the wonderful time we shared together: talking, laughing, enjoying each other’s company, and then Gonzalo asked me whether we had a chance as a couple, and if I wanted to be more than friends. Of course, I said yes.
One month later, on my vacation, I had the opportunity to visit Gonzalo, so I came to Chicago for the first time. I spent the entire August with him, so I could find out how the life with him here in Chicago would be, and I liked it.
I had to return to México to complete my degree. Finally, when I finished my studies, Gonzalo asked me if I could move in with him. Moving to the U.S. had to be the biggest decision that I ever had to make: it was not easy for me. I like Chicago, but I also know how hard it would be to try to do everything right with immigration hassles. I visited Gonzalo again in December, 2011, planning to spend some time together to find out how our relationship would work for us. I stayed in Chicago for six months; this time helped us so much to grow as a couple and at the same time made our commitment more solid.
Then, in June 2012, I had to leave since my tourist visa didn’t allow me to stay for more than six months at a time. Saying good bye to Gonzalo was so hard, because I knew I wouldn’t able to come back to spend time together with him any time soon.
Love is something that needs constant care, but distance is always hard to deal with, and puts a strain on relationships.
As we know, DOMA has been destroying binational families by ripping them apart. Like any heterosexual couple does, Gonzalo should be able to file for a fiancé visa for me, but he cannot, because of DOMA. We had to continue using modern technology (Skype) to help keep our relationship going on a nightly basis.
Gonzalo is the love of my life and we have a very mature relationship. We understand each other and we want to have the opportunity to be with each other, to make a family and to build a future together.
I love to wake up next to Gonzalo, and to make him breakfast. I like feeling his breath next to me when we are in bed, I love listening to Gonzalo’s stories about his life in Colombia. I enjoy being part of his life, and I want to make him proud of me as much as I feel proud of him.
At night, we relax on the sofa in front of the TV, or talk over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. I love dancing with him, even if he claims that he has two left feet!
Sometimes we talk nonsense. But even when we argue, there’s always a word that eases any argument. Most importantly, I know Gonzalo cares for me, as I care for him.
I had to wait four months to come back to Chicago to Gonzalo, but this time was much harder to get there. On the way from México, the immigration officer at the Chicago airport asked me why I returned when only four months had passed since I left the U.S.
“I wanted to visit my boyfriend,” I told him, and he laughed in my face. I felt so ashamed! He called another officer to take me to a separate room. After an hour of questioning, I was allowed through. The experience at the customs that day, made us think of taking the next step in our relationship and getting married. Not because of immigration difficulties, but because we both want this and we love each other deeply!
To be honest, I don’t really need to move anywhere. In my country, I have everything that I would need: my career, my degree, my house, my things, my family, my culture, my friends. Even the legislation in Mexico is more gay-friendly now. But the fact is: Gonzalo cannot move to my country and I understand his reasons, so, if one of us has to move and if I want to have a relationship with Gonzalo, it’s going to be me.
I can leave my life behind. I don’t care, I love him. As many people do, I was waiting for the right person that I could fall in love with, and now I finally found that person, and fortunately he feels the same about me.
All we now need is to build our life together. We are planning to get married in July 2013.
As we join this campaign to defeat DOMA and bring about marriage equality from our home in Chicago, time is running fast. I hope our contribution to this struggle will result in great things to come for all the couples like Gonzalo and me.