Friday, May 17, 2013

Our Story: Ashlee & Ky

"The worst part is the ever present fear that lingers in our minds."

Ky and I met early in 2004 as undergraduate students at Purdue. I can still remember that first night; we spoke long into the night (rather, I mostly listened because I was shy). From then on Ky’s been in my heart and on my mind, despite my many attempts to eject her from my life.

See, the price of loving Ky was my identity, my lifestyle, and my family. I was raised in a fundamentalist, separatist Christian denomination which had a lot of rules. No sports, no jewelry, no dancing, no joining the military, no going to movies, no taking communion at other churches, no dating, definitely no dating someone of the same sex!

Though leaving that life behind and forging a new one without any support was tremendously difficult, I can say with no hesitation that bringing Ky into my life was the best thing God could have done for me. Together, Ky and I have overcome many obstacles and differences. Aside from unsupportive families and friends, we held different religious and cultural beliefs. I was a devout Christian, and she was skeptical about my religion. I am an American from a quiet town in a fly-over state; she is Chinese and grew up in third world Paraguay. As a child (even into adulthood) my parents had me on a short leash; her parents moved away when she was nine leaving her with guardians who gave her free rein. On personality tests, our scores land us on opposite ends of the personality spectrum.

While we have prevailed over a lot, we are still threatened by our unstable future here in the US. Our path this far hasn’t been easy. Because Ky is not American, and we are not granted the same rights as heterosexuals - the right to obtain a federally recognized marriage - all our major and many minor life decisions have hinged on our inability to secure a green card for Ky. We’ve uprooted twice following student and work visas around the country, which is a huge financial, emotional, and social disruption. I worked to provide for our family when Ky was prohibited by law to hold a job, and we lived on a single income against our wishes (and to Ky’s dismay).

Ky felt like a prisoner inside of our borders, refusing to leave the country for nearly eight years for fear of not being allowed reentry. She did not see her parents and two brothers during that time. She missed saying goodbye to her grandmother on her deathbed. She missed the funerals of two grandparents, the birth and first year of her only niece, and her own brother’s wedding. Additionally, we were unable to fulfill our dream of traveling internationally and discovering the world.

But the worst part is the ever present fear that lingers in our minds. During every step of this immigration nightmare, we worry that we will soon need to find another country to move our lives to. Ky just barely secured the money to enroll in school for her second student visa (it was a miracle really). Only after desperation and begging did she find someone to hire her during her Optional Practical Training. Another miracle landed her a job which granted her a work visa (which she received just days before the H1 B cap was reached). We have managed averting deportation and self exile, but only barely; we have not managed to avoid the emotional toll this process has inflicted.

We realize we are the lucky ones, as far as same-sex binational couples go, and we feel fortunate. But we don’t want this struggle to define our entire lives, and we are tired of putting our lives on hold. We want equality so we can live free, breathe easy, and achieve our dreams.

Are you a same-sex binational couple? Do you have families / friends affected by this issue?
Please contact us at if you are interested in sharing your story.  

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