Courageous Love: Alejandro Grimaldi Rivera
Our story began in February of 2007 when I first met Alejandro on the internet, or I should say when he first found me. I had received now and again a few responses to my personal ad from foreign persons but had never responded to a note from someone out of the state of California – and even then only twice. But Alejandro’s response was authentic and real. So, I replied. He followed my initial response with consistent, educated, thoughtful and discerning discourse. (Even though, at that time, his English and my Spanish were not as fluent as now.)
Six months later, after having bought a web cam and arriving into the 21st Century, he asked me the question: “Why don’t you come down to Medellin?” I said with a tinge of American ignorance, “to Colombia?!” (Thinking: That sounds dangerous!) He quickly followed, “Yes, to my home town. That’s what planes are for.”
So, off I went to a country that I had never thought to visit and one that is now a beloved country, second only to my own. Our meeting and the following three and a half years have been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Finding and sharing a love that is strong, respectful, truthful, honest, and inspiring has been nothing short of a mix of beauty and joy.
We have had to use the services of planes – traveling to Buenos Aires, Colonia, Montevideo, Iguazu, Lima, Cusco, Cartagena, Cabo (with my family last Thanksgiving), Medellin five times (to see his city and his family), Cancun, Oaxaca and Mexico City. It has been wonderful to see the southern hemisphere together.
In the interim we have applied for student visas for him to study at a language school in Santa Barbara and then to Santa Barbara City College to study international business. Both applications were rejected.
I wrote to President Obama 365 emails every day during his first year in office for his assistance in either getting DOMA repealed or to get the Uniting American Families Act passed during the last 111th “friendly” congress. He failed to help us.
I wrote numerous times to Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer and my House Representative Lois Capps for help, all to no avail.
We petitioned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a visa for an alien fiancé in 2009, but the request was denied due to the so called Defense of Marriage Act. The immigration service had the gall to site Lova vs. Lara as a precedent to the rejection, implying that if one of us were to get a sex change they would approve our petition.
We want to be together legally. We want to have our life in the United States. And though we have considered petitioning Canada for a humanitarian visa, we have yet to take that step.
Our separation and the constant barrage of discrimination and hate we face are difficult for both of us. But our love is strong. Alejandro is strong. Our resolve is strong. We will prevail. Our love will prevail. We won’t give up hope. We won’t give up the fight to change people’s hearts. We will in time celebrate our marriage in Santa Barbara.
Lifted up by: Bryan Reinhard