Little Bio: Andreas & Wooden Table
Your Immigration Story
It was illegal to be gay in Argentina when I was growing up. We were living under a dictatorship until 1985. By 1989, even though we had democracy, the politics were still complicated since they were trying to overthrow the government constantly. I was arrested in a gay bar, and in order to get out of jail, I pretended I didn't know what kind of bar I was in. So it was extremely hard to be who I was in my home country at that time. Years later, a partner and I visited San Francisco on vacation. When I saw the Castro and queerness being celebrated, I was overwhelmed. I never forgot that feeling of freedom and planned to return someday. Twenty-one years later with a lot of struggles under the bridge, I have made the Bay Area home with my wife Citabria and our very spoiled dog, Olive, and have been lucky enough to create a business that now employs other immigrants.
What do you think is needed from our community today?
Argentinians have a sharing culture. We share yerba mate, food, music, and tango dancing. Nothing makes us happier than family and friends new and old eating, drinking and spending time together. We believe we are truly sweeter together. I think our community needs to bring these values more fully to life here - to come together, to share, to celebrate differences. We need to show people here how it's done.
What does being an American mean?
When I got citizenship, I was excited to not be hassled at the airport every time I arrived here, and I thought having a citizenship was the safest thing to do to deal with all the questioning. Now, it feels that not even that gives me peace of mind; we are still harassed, sometimes even more so. The immigration system isn't perfect by any means, but what is happening right now is shameful. People say go back to your country if you don't like it...I've heard that before many times. Amidst all of this intolerance, it is hard to know if Americans know what it means to be American.
Anything else you think is important for people to know about you?
I love both of my countries deeply. My family is here and there. My friends are here and there. My culture is here and there. To be whole is to be both.