Anticipatory Grief: Binational Gay Couple on the North Fork Live in Fear of Separation

Twenty-five pills each day. That’s the regiment that 71-year-old Orient resident Edwin Blesch needs to treat several chronic illnesses, including degenerative spine disease.

He has a lifeline – his partner, Tim Smulian, whom he met 13 years ago in Cape Town, South Africa, while traveling with some friends. Every day, Tim is there to go to the doctors with Edwin and help him with household tasks, which can be challenging. To an outsider, they seem inseparable.

Edwin, however, lives in constant fear that he will lose his significant other and the caretaker whose love and dedication he depends on. Edwin and Tim married in South Africa in 2007, but Tim hasn’t been able to acquire US citizenship. He’s typically needed to leave every six months and return to South Africa to renew his tourist visa, a hardship for the couple even before Edwin’s worsening illnesses.

At the heart of their problem is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which says that in the eyes of the federal government, marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. The law creates discriminatory barriers for gay and lesbian couples, barriers that extend to the immigration system. That means that Edwin, regardless of how long he and Tim have been together, can’t petition for Tim’s citizenship.

“We’ve been living pretty consistently with what we like to call anticipatory grief,” Edwin says. “It’s like you’re expecting a death or something, you know, when we get pulled apart and can’t be with each other.”

Hear Edwin and Tim tell their story:


Los servicios de traducción solo existen en el papel

No hay suficientes intérpretes para inmigrantes víctimas de violencia doméstica en Suffolk

No se han visto demasiados cambios desde que el departamento de justicia emitiera unas recomendaciones el año pasado para remediar los escasos servicios de traducción por parte de la policía de Suffolk, perjudicando a inmigrantes víctimas de violencia doméstica.

La violencia doméstica es un problema significativo en la salud pública de Long Island y muchos crímenes no se reportan o se reportan incorrectamente debido a una falta de servicios básicos de traducción a residentes con un nivel de inglés limitado, según organizaciones comunitarias que abogan por los derechos de los inmigrantes.

Durante el 2009 y el 2010 hubieron mas de 19.000 incidentes de violencia doméstica, 4.199 casos en Nassau y 15.298 casos en Suffolk, dejando a Suffolk en el segundo lugar con el índice mas alto en todo el estado, según la división de servicios de justicia criminal del estado de Nueva York.

Two Closets: Gay and Undocumented on Long Island

Joaquin Villalobos was entering his final year at Uniondale High School in 2010 when he realized he didn’t have a social security number.

He had come to Long Island at age 12 with his mother, as she fled extortionists in El Salvador who had threatened to kidnap her young son. As Joaquin soon found out, he was brought to America without papers. He was undocumented.

He couldn’t legally work. He couldn’t get state financial aid for school. He couldn’t even drive.

Joaquin found solidarity among other undocumented young people when, in that same year, he decided to join a Washington, DC, march in support of the DREAM Act, a federal bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship to students like him. “We went there and I met so many great people, so many kids who are in my same situation and they inspired me,” he says. He wanted to work toward a change.

For Joaquin, who is gay, the news that he was undocumented came at the end of a high school experience where he also faced discrimination and harassment because of his sexuality.

Now a 20-year-old student at Nassau Community College, Joaquin has become an active supporter of immigrant rights, particularly the New York DREAM Act (unlike the federal bill, this would only offer state tuition assistance to undocumented students, not a pathway to citizenship). He’s helped organize several rallies and addressed the school’s board of trustees.

Mariela en el desierto / Mariela in the Dessert

By Karen Zacarías, one of the most celebrated Mexican American playwrights.
Directed by Jerry Ruíz
Presented in Spanish at El Repertorio Español in New York City

Mariela and José were once the golden couple of the Mexican artist inner-circle. Together they built a family and an artist colony to host friends like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo. But now their daughter has grown and run away, Frida and Diego are too famous to call, and artistic inspiration has been strangled by isolation and mendacity. Set in an empty artists’ colony in the Mexican desert in 1950, this mystery play reveals what happens to relationships when a long hidden family lie is exposed.

Latino and African American Families Fight Foreclosure in Central Islip

Nearly two dozen residents and activists marched on January 7, 2012, through a Central Islip neighborhood hit hard by foreclosures, calling for local politicians to support residents instead of big banks.

Protesters – made up of homeowners facing foreclosure, neighbors tired of vacant properties, and members of the organization New York Communities for Change – symbolically took back several vacant houses in Ferndale Boulevard and called on Suffolk County to close its bank accounts with big banks like Chase. According to homeowners, Chase is refusing to give them loan modifications and they are losing their houses.

Foreclosures in Central Islip affect many Latino and African-American families, and the hamlet has a foreclosure rate eight times greater than the state as a whole and 3.5 times greater than the rest of Suffolk County, according to New York Communities for Change.

Immigrant Workers Hunt Back Wages in Long Island

New York’s mandatory $7.25 minimum wage and proper overtime pay are routinely denied to many immigrant workers. Employers nationwide keep millions of dollars a year by defying labor laws and skimming their weekly salaries. Long Island has a high population of Hispanic immigrants who fight to recover their wages every day. In 2010, the Federal Department of Labor recovered $3.6 million in back wages in the course of about 300 investigations covering 2,300 employees.

Absorption Modules – Jeffrey Allen Price 


Jeffrey Allen Price is an interdisciplinary installation artist. His work often alludes to natural processes such as growth and decay and ultimately comments on consumerism and materialistic culture. His work is often process-based and accumulative. He teaches Studio Art at York College in Jamaica, Queens, NY and Art History at Hofstra University. His works have been featured in The New York Times and on the Food Network.

The Aftermath: Marcelo Lucero’s Murder

As the immigrant population on Long Island has increased over the past two decades, so has racial tension and hate crimes. Racial violence peaked in Suffolk County with the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, killed by seven teenagers between 16 and 17 years old on November 2, 2008, in Patchogue.

Student Displays Sculpture at Annual Stony Brook Arts Festival

Spring has finally arrived at Stony Brook University and with it the annual Shirley Strum Kenny Student Arts Festival. The art festival is from April 7 to April 23 Apr 14, 2010 and is dedicated the many creative Stony Brook students in an entertaining week of artistic exposition.

This story is about Whitney Harris, an art student at Stony Brook, who is participating in the Unbound Outdoor Art Exhibition. Her project is a hypothetical collaboration with the artist Kate Gilmore, who is a performance video artist and a professor at many schools. She was assigned a conceptual chair by her professor in the sculpture department.

Video: Ana Llacer Alventosa

Singing for sustainability at Stony Brook Earthstock

After six months of hard work, a committee composed of academic departments and student programs opened Stony Brook University’s 10th annual Earthstock on April 19, 2010 a week of festivities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The weeklong program is designed to raise awareness among students as well as the public through informative academic and cultural events addressing environmental concerns, sustainability and healthy eating habits.

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