Friday, March 14, 2008

Gay Immigrants Find Safe Space in New York

Gay immigrants who come to the United States often do not know they have an option to apply for asylum based on persecution from sexual orientation.

One resource for many of these immigrants is the Aids Center of Queens County, or ACQC, which serves 5,000 people infected with HIV in eight locations throughout Queens.

ACQC's services and food and clothing pantries are not limited to those infected with HIV, but are open to all in need, including gay asylum seekers, according to executive director, Phil Glotzer.

Today, immigrants fleeing persecution are applying for asylum in fewer numbers as deportation rates are increasing. Heightened immigration controls have made it harder for immigrants to obtain visas, and many who are eligible do not apply for asylum because they fear being deported if their application is rejected.

Seven years ago, Dane Solomon fled his native country of Guyana, leaving his son and family, never to return. In the years since, he suffered a stroke, beat brain cancer, and coped with HIV, poverty and the uncertainty of being undocumented in New York.

"I lived in constant fear that I would not be able to put up this facade," Solomon said. "Knowing who you are inside and pretending to be somebody else takes everything from you."

We tell Solomon's story, Dane Solomon is No Longer Afraid, in the Space Issue of The multimedia story presents videos and resources on U.S. asylum trends and the challenges facing immigrants within the LGBT community.

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