Tolentino is from the Philippines Wahey is from Mississippi. They met in an HIV support chat room.
Aurelio was in the USA on a visa working at a hospital as registered nurse in Florida. Trapped in an abusive relationship with another man, he would ring Roi when he need to talk and they formed a very close bond.
“I knew there was something special about him, and I knew that I had to help him,” says Whaley, a 46-year-old casino supervisor who lives in Gulfport, Miss. “It didn’t matter if he fell in love with me. I just wanted to let him know that I would always be there for him…”
“…And he gave me the courage to get out of that relationship and never look back,” Tolentino adds without missing a beat. “There was something about his voice that just told me I could trust him.”
They eventually started living together. Nowhere flash but they didn’t care. They just were happy to be together.
This is where the story becomes hearbreaking.
In 2006 Aurelo’s application for a green card was declined because he was HIV positive.
Although the ban has since been lifted, that has not affected his case.
A judge in New Orleans then denied a request for asylum. And becuase the Federal Government does not recognise same sex relationships Roi cannot sponsor him.
Aurelio now lives in Canada and they communicate through phones. Roi used to fly up whenever he could to be with the man he loves but then Roi got sick.
His doctors diagnosed him with toxoplasmosis — a common opportunistic infection associated with AIDS — but a CT scan last year also found that Whaley had a benign tumor in his brain and a metastasizing tumor in his lung. The cancer was in stage III and had spread to his pancreas and adrenal glands. Whaley’s low T-cell count made chemotherapy unviable. Though he has a new oncologist and is good spirits, the prognosis remains grim. “My doctor tells me I’ve had several miracles so far, but that I shouldn’t expect it to continue that way,” Whaley says.
Even with all of his own health concerns, he is more worried about person that means everything to him.
Tolentino’s sister, who lives in the Philippines, has been harassed about her brother’s HIV status and was told he’d be beaten and castrated, with his “penis fed to a dog” if he returned there. “He’s going to die there,”
“He’s not going have a job, he’s not going to have access to the medication he needs to live, he’s probably going to be shunned by everyone in his family…”
“…and Roi is just not going to be able to make that trip in his condition,” Tolentino says. “We’re in fear of getting torn apart again, except this time it’s going to be across oceans."
The Federal Governments refusal to recognize same sex relationships is tearing people apart and destroying lives.
Why should people have to suffer because the Government is too afraid of losing votes?
This is a violation of human rights and human dignity. I, as a straight female, had the right to fly from New Zealand to marry the man I loved. The Federal Government had no problems granting me and my now husband that request because we are heterosexual. I want the same rights for Roi and Aurelio and every other single gay couple in this country and around the world.
It is ATROCIOUS that these two people are living apart and suffering apart because of society’s and the Governments refusal to acknowledge their love .
Its PAST TIME that the Federal Government stopped discriminating against people because of whom they love.
This story has to have a happy ending.