Five Things I Love About Bay Area

Sunshine. There’s so much sun and warmth to wake me up from Midwest winter hibernation, though the weather in Silicon Valley is refreshingly cool, all year around. I am still getting used to seeing sunlit sky every single day and not having to worry about winter clothes. Air. The air here makes me aware of each breath I take. It’s dry and cool, and invigorating. Nothing beats that fresh morning breeze from the lake, with the scent of pine and blossoms of the season.

Love Without Borders

“Why can’t you just go to Russia?” an immigration officer asked, after I explained in detail that I would be in danger as a member of persecuted minority, if I were to be separated from my U.S. citizen partner of over a decade and deported back to Kazakhstan. In 2010, my experience at the USCIS offices in downtown Chicago was surreal. My wife was in the same room, but was not allowed to speak.

Surviving Winter

Mandarin orange peel, cinnamon sticks, candle wax form a new candle. I am a firebug at heart, especially in December. Winter is not my favorite season. My childhood was spent far too close to Siberia, so I had enough snow to last me a lifetime. But there are ways to fight the cold. Ambient sounds of a fireplace, as well as spicy, roasted smells and tastes do bring imaginary warmth to alter the perception of the weather outside just enough.

Belonging

@ereit asked: What does belonging mean to you? My first impressions of America in 1997 were one of any traveler in a new world. After a long and exhausting journey across the ocean and past Customs, I breathed in the air, felt the ground at my feet, and looked around, taking in the surroundings. America was cleaner, louder, warmer than what I was used to. Brighter at night, with lower ceilings, far better roads, with fast food places smelling unpleasantly of melted, processed cheese.

Our Green Card Interview: A Chance for One Lesbian Couple to Share Their Story and to Address Harm Caused By DOMA

The account of our green card interview, originally posted at The DOMA Project. A milestone is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road at intervals of one mile that serve to reassure travellers that the proper path is being followed, or a single date during which a certain phase of the project is developed. Thursday, May‭ ‬24, 2012, was a milestone for us. Sveta & Andi in Chicago (Photo: Lavi Soloway)     On the evening before,‭ ‬my wife, Andi and I boarded a train in our town near Peoria to travel north to Chicago:‭ ‬a quiet three-hour ride,‭ ‬past the corn fields,‭ ‬the wind farm,‭ ‬the small communities of rural Illinois, some familiar down to the layout of their streets and others only vaguely known.‭ ‬We watched the sunset through the Amtrak window,‭ ‬and our mutual nervousness was,‭ ‬for once,‭ ‬only the excitement on the eve of an important event and the anticipation of meeting fellow activist, Brad, and our lawyer, Lavi Soloway.

Victory for Sveta and Andi in Chicago

Victory for Sveta and Andi in Chicago, originally posted at The DOMA Project What’s in a name? I’ve asked myself that question, comparing civil unions in our state, Illinois, to full equal marriage just across the river in Iowa. We know the answer. We are living it. The day after the ruling     When my wife and I crossed that river to marry in Iowa, I took her last name.

Sveta & Andi: Together for 11 Years, Married Lesbian Couple in Illinois Faces June Deportation Hearing

Originally posted on April 26, 2011, at The DOMA Project. Hello, I am Sveta. I was born in what is now Kazakhstan. I came to the US when I was fifteen; this year I will be thirty. I like Linux and painting. I love a wonderful woman named Andi and I have loved her since we met eleven years ago. We met online, on a web forum dedicated to a show called Xena: Warrior Princess.