First Published: Before August 2002
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
Glasgow sees more than a week of gay events as part of the evergrowing annual Glasgay festival starting this Friday 26th October. Glasgay features films, music and theatre from around the world and one of the performers is American Tim Miller who's performing a show called Glory Box which explores his seven year relationship with his Australian partner Alistair McCartney who has both Aussie and UK passports. The show primarily deals with the discrimination gay couples face in the states when they come up against their immigration laws, writes William J. Mann.
Unlike here in the UK where a two-year relationship akin to marriage is the basis of same-sex immigration law, in the US gay partnerships are given none of the privileges that all heterosexual marriages are afforded. When an American citizen falls in love with someone from another country they will quickly realize what a homophobic American pickle they've gotten themselves into.
Controversial gay performance artist Tim Miller who's
had a government grant withdrawn because of the
content of his work.
Solo performer Tim Miller dives into this in a charged personal way in a work that is disarmingly funny, pissed off, sexy and challenging.

OutUK: So what's a Glory Box? It sounds nasty!

Tim: Well, it's not what you think it is! A glory box is what people in Australia call a hope chest. Glory Box is a funny, sexy and charged exploration of my journeys through the challenge of love, gay marriage, and the struggle for immigration rights for gay people and their partners. I looked at my life and pulled out some of the funny and sexy narratives of how my sense of relationships was shaped (i.e. fucked up) by the culture I grew up in.

The piece dives into all kinds of juicy stuff from a wild story about asking another boy to marry me in 3rd grade (he beat me up and jammed a Twinkie down my throat) to the harrowing travails of being in a bi-national relationship with my Australian partner Alistair (the US government beats me up and jams its homophobic laws denying gay partners immigration rights). I think I preferred the Twinkie! I hope that Glory Box leads the audience on an intense and humorous journey into the complexity of the queer human heart that knows no boundary.

OutUK: Why Glory Box now?

Tim: Well, the clock is ticking on Alistair's student visa and we don't know what to do next. I have been so freaked out and challenged in the last couple of years by our struggle to keep Alistair in the US, that I decided to fight back and make a kick ass piece that I really hope will let the audience know how completely without civil rights lesbian and gay relationships are.

I feel like people really don't understand how completely gay people's relationships are in a second class position to those of straight people. It is the way I've felt my rights be most challenged as a US citizen, the fact that I may be forced to leave my own country and immigrate to the UK on Alistair's passport to be with the man I love.

OutUK: Tell me about the piece. How do you get at this very hot material about bi-national couple's situation, which is probably news for lots of people?

Tim: This piece is at the same time the most intimately personal piece I have made as well as the most pissed off political. I know that many gay people really don't realize that if you fall in love with someone from another country you have no ability to include that person in your life under US law. Any heterosexual person can fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, marry him or her and make them a citizen. Unless their partner blew up a bridge in Bolivia or something, all heterosexual marriages are given immigration rights.

On the other hand, NO gay person may have the same special right that straight people take for granted. I think it's a very tangible way that we can see how unfairly US culture treats our committed relationships.

OutUK: What about people who say why should we fight to have this heterosexual institution?

Tim: I always felt that way in the past, I would say to myself "I don't want to support a corrupt bourgeois institution etc" Well, I understand that point of view, but it really rings hollow when you are facing your lover being deported, or can't get into the hospital to see your partner, or the immediate family takes away the house you left your partner because your will was not acknowledged.

The General Accounting Office in Washington just released a list of 1049 special rights and privileges that straight people get when they get married. I don't want anybody to get feel like they have to get married, on the other hand I want every dyke and fag who wants to marry their partner to be able to and have the same equal right of relationship that straight people have. Otherwise, we are just letting them fuck us over. What some people would like to forget is that marriage has been very fluid in our history.

I try to remind people that 140 years ago during slavery, African-americans were not allowed to marry. Thanks to the women's movement we no longer see marriage as a man's ownership over a woman -- we view it as a partnership. That wasn't the case a hundred years ago and it is a huge change. Until 1967, it was illegal in many states for men and women of different races to marry! Changes in how we define marriage have been one of the ways that America marks it's slow progress towards more civil rights.

OutUK: What will you and Alistair do to stay together?

Tim: Right now, couples like Alistair and I are offered three scenarios: your partner is deported, you break up, or you both leave the country and make a life in a more civilized nation than America. Not very pleasant options. Fortunately Alistair has passports from two countries (Australia and the UK) that give gay people and their partners immigration rights. I have this completely romantic thought that art can change the world and that something is going to change. Meanwhile, I'm going to work my little performance art booty off to raise awareness, money and trouble with Glory Box. I want the piece to conjure for the audience a new glory box, a new kind of hope chest, that can be an alternative site for the placing of memories, hopes and dreams of gay people's extraordinary potential for love.

William J Mann is the award-winning author of "The Men from The Boys" and "Wisecracker".
Glory Box is at the Tron Theatre on November 2nd & 3rd at 8pm. Booking : 0141 552 4267
Tim is also conducting a Queer Performance Workshop on Sat Nov 3rd at 1pm
Websites :Tim Miller   Glasgay


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