The suicide of this couple should be blamed squarely on the laws of the United States that specifically excludes gay spouses
By Melanie Nathan, March 11, 2013.
Wilfried Knight may be remembered as yet another adult industry porn star who happened to commit suicide; but there is much more and so that is not the reason we should remember him or how he died. Two gay men died, husbands, and they both committed suicide within a month of each other, the genesis of which must be attributed to a spiraling of their lives, from romance to having to survive inhumane discrimination, starting with the laws of the U.S.A. that would not allow for the couple to remain legally in the U.S.A. and ending in the work place prejudice in the country that took them in on a work visa.
After Jerry Enriquez, an American aged 47, committed suicide, his husband Wilfred Knight, a Frenchman, wrote an angry and emotional BLOG, where he elucidated the hardship the couple suffered trying to find a country that would accommodate their multinational relationship and provide work, after they could not remain in the United States. The 38 year old Knight blamed the suicide on the prejudice and the “cult” like expectations that Jerry experienced at his work in Canada, where the couple managed to live, with Jerry able to find work on a work related visa. But when the work was threatened, so was their right to live in their safe haven. At the end of the Blog Wilfried notes, now a grim reflection … “future will tell”… we now know that that meant his suicide too.
The Couple could not remain in the U.S.A., Jerry’s home country, because gays are not entitled to benefit from the federal immigration laws in the U.S.A. that allow a spouse to sponsor a foreign spouse for a green card, U.S. residency. They had to leave the U.S.A. and went to other countries, ending up in Canada, where the couple’s ability to remain in the country depended on Jerry’s work related visa.Their story of prejudice is not unusual. The Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and woman only, precluded Jerry from petitioning for his husband, Wilfred to stay in the U.S.A. The desperation felt by couples in this situation is barely describable. I know because I have been in that situation too. So when one’s mechanism to find refuge collapses, the choices are ominous and the exhaustion of remedies leads to a desperation so palpable, suicide may seem the only way.
Wilfried found his husband’s lifeless body and noted in a Blog post dated March 02, 2013:
“My partner committed suicide by hanging last week February 21st, while i was at work, after 5 exhausting months trying to find a job, which led nowhere. After a while, it just took over him. As a partner, i often tried to cheer him up, to make him feel loved, to take him out, to keep him alive and happy, but most of all, to motivate him. But sadly as a partner, you cannot always be there to keep a watchful eye, and in his case, he was hiding it well. He only mentioned the day before he was exhausted and tired of it all, and ashamed of being a “dead weight” to me, which makes no sense. We had been together for 9 years, for better or worse, right? He had it well prepared. When i came back home worried for not receiving any answer to my texts, i found him there..hanging. I since then discovered the poor guy was on clonazepam and zoplicone to cope with the stress..which he had left there on the side with a bottle of wine he had purchased that morning…Which simply seemed aimed at me, in a way saying: “follow me and see you on the other side”. However bitchy people are, to me, it is a last proof of love: he goes the hard way (who wants to die hanging?” and leave me the easy road. I do not miss him. I adored him, i cannot be angry and you will understand later why.”
Jerry and Wilfried depended on the particular job and the visa it provided for them to stay together as a couple in Canada. When things started to unravel at work for Jerry, their entire existence as a couple was threatened and as the impossibility of finding a country where they could find a home as a couple, loomed. Jerry killed himself. Wilfred wrote a blog about it and then took his own life a week later. While Wilfried blamed Jerry’s job in Canada for Jerry’s plight and desperation, he also elucidates the prejudice the couple suffered as a binational (multinational) couple, without which Jerry’s work may not have been the defining problem for the couple.
On March 03, Wilfried summarized three previous Blog posts which he had written after Jerry’s suicide, and then soon thereafter took his own life as well:
“First i expect to be judged or put in the trash bag because i used to be a porn “star”, because generalization is now commonplace in this world, because no one ever reflects anymore, because reality shows have now taken over anything that once challenged our minds. But it is ok, i am not going to apologize for what i have been up to. Sex is only shameful if you want it to be. And my identity does not disgrace my partner’s. He was his own man and in no way should be judged for who he was dating. In any relationship we still stay who we are, individually. And he was as respectable as one can be. And as for myself, i am not druggy, no drunk. Those ready to stereotype me can consult those who know me personally: i am happier hiking or climbing than in any party, and FYI, i have never attended any circuit party. If all men travelling for circuit parties would travel down to every capital city in the world together, gay marriage would already be widespread, just sayin..
Yes i was a porn star, but it always had been a hobby. In the meantime, i also graduated in law, in chinese medicine, in personal training. I have always achieved academically, and always assumed my choices. I will not apologize. I do not see how having sex on screen is less socially acceptable than being a corporate banker regularly backstabbing anyone on his way in order to get richer. To be honest, if what i did bothers anyone, well, no one ever forces anyone to watch, right?
And yes, a porn “star” (still laughing at the term itself) can fall in love, can be in a relationship, and no one but the two people involved, has the right to judge. What people do together in bed or not stay their business.
And i was in love, and so was my partner. He let me be who i wanted to be. He did not agree with everything i was but he let me be. He gave me the best 8, almost 9 years of my life.
And this amazing guy committed suicide by hanging last week, after fighting for so long for us to stay together.
Because this story is not about me, it is about him, us, and any happy gay couple treated differently that “normal” people. I do not want attention to my own person, i want NO money, simply because money will not make me happier, will not bring him back. I want this story to help pushing reforms in politics and behaviors, that is all.
I will try to keep details brief to come to the point, more details are on my blog on www.wilfried-knight.net, which probably will be taken down, no surprise here.
Jerry and I met almost 9 years ago when he was on a work trip to London and i was living there. Spark flew, he came back again and again..He was the kind of man i could look up to, romantic, handsome, took care of his mother, overall a very sweet man that got blown off by many people before. Not the right guy for the corporate world one might say. After realizing we were right for each other and wanted to be together, well, we also realized for two gay men from different countries it is hard to find a way to settle down as a couple unlike both men individually get a working visa for the same country. I took on studying again, in a field i always dreamt of, acupuncture, and with student visa in hands, moved to Portland Oregon, where we spent an amazing 6 years. Jerry was an amazing partner who i could live with, sleep with, imagining getting old together without fear of aging. We had an implicit trust of each other. Of course it was not perfect, it never is. You compromise. If you spend your time screaming around how perfect your marriage is (hmmmmm, country stars anybody..) and need to make a display of it, you know it means divorce within two years maximum.
Then….My curriculum was going to come to an end, meaning, my visa was going to end.Never mind our commitment, our years together, i was to be thrown out. My partner knew it and decided to look for a job in the only country that would allow us to be together and marry: Canada.
And i know what most people will say: Why didn’t you guys marry in Washington, or California, or NYC? Well, IF YOU ARE TWO GAY MEN FROM DIFFERENT NATIONALITY, STATE MARRIAGE DOES NOT MATTER, EVEN IF ONE IS AMERICAN: IT NEEDS TO EXIST ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL TO APPLY TO A MULTINATIONAL COUPLE.
In France, you partner if foreign must be a resident already, in Canada, if none are Canadian, they can get married but they cannot stay. One of them needs to be Canadian.
So my partner, with a plan to get a job in Canada, decided to get married together in Vancouver. That way, if he did get a job there, i would get a spousal visa, and all would be ok, right? Sadly that is the way you have to think if you do not want to be split up. We basically had to leave the USA like if we were some kind of criminals looking for asylum when in fact we only were a happy couple with a dog just trying to be happy.
We got married in January 2 years ago, a week after a chest surgery i had due to a pre cancerous tumor. I could not even get married in a tight gay shirt, damn it!
That done, he got a position in Canada, one he was so proud of: working as a product manager for the IVIVA branch of LULULEMON. I got him into yoga a few years before. The company sounded right, he felt welcome, was boasting about it everywhere he could. One of the Company’s motto is “friends are better than money”, right? . He fast realized it was not so much what he was expecting it to be. I always personally believe that even if you involve yourself in a company as you should, your personal life stays so. You did not suddenly enter a cult…Well with LULULEMON, it seems he did. He had to do yoga in mornings even if not feeling like it, he had to pretend to like sushi, drink soy milk (someone will have to tell me since when and why processed soy is better than milk for any caucasian), was judged if he had been seen drinking on a week end.. Somehow the company who pretended to be all about yoga did not quite apply the philosophy it should have embraced. Yoga is not about vanity, is not about judging. Whereas people in LULULEMON do yoga only for one thing: look better than their neighbor, will drink soy milk and eat tofu only to pretend to be special and give themselves the right to judge another…Errrr as far as i am concerned, our grand parents never had any of that kind of food and were perfectly fine and fit. Diet fads are just for the ordinary girl to pretend she suddenly belong to a special circle and way to good to relate to the ordinary human being.
My partner Jerry Enriquez took over a young girl branch of Lulu, called IVIVA. Its manager BREE STANLAKE, stayed for few months, during which the collapsing derelict branch was getting worse and worse in terms of sales, and Jerry was trying desperately, as many gay men would, to change it. Whereas she opposed any changes. Never mind she was soon to go on a year sabbatical, which she did, leaving Jerry in a deep hole having to justify for what he had not done since he was a newcomer, only there for a few months. Remember Obama taking over the mess Bush left behind?
In the meantime, the product manager decided she also developed antipathy towards Jerry as a person, when she had NO idea Bree, who was supposedly her friend, wanted to get rid of her. While Jerry felt for her, and tried to keep her on, the product manager kept on blaming him more and more finally taking a sick leave for “personal issues”.
Now let’s go back to the cult part: Jerry had to attend a training that all LULULEMON employees have to go through: LANDMARK. Is that German for Scientology? Training in which he was forced to admit humans are just machines and have no feeling such as grief, etc…He came back from that training exhausted everyday. But he made one major mistake: he answered back to the training s host, and of course from then one was blacklisted. Then hounded on the phone to take part in more training sessions: they would call him several times in a day….LULULEMON was on to him to be part of the cult, no such thing as individuality was permitted. His fate was sealed. However hard he tried he seemed to satisfy, nobody would give him any credit, while his predecessor was on a sabbatical, happily taking NO responsibility in the mess left behind.
Finally last straw: Paul ZAENGLE, freshly brought in and probably on to get rid of him, gave Jerry ONE week to comply to politics and admit his mistakes in marketing, which were not his, but BREE’s (Jerry only was in Lululemon for less than 9 months, how could he be responsible for failing sales of previous collections). But you see, a straight man, would have given a month at least to improve. Jerry was told on a tuesday to improve, sacked on the following friday. When asked to sign the document, he discovered they wanted to state “poor performance” as a reason. Of course he had it changed since they had no basis for it.
From then, Jerry of course worried about his visa, our visa. Lululemon lawyers could not give him a straight answer (isn’t that what lawyers are supposed to do) and all they could tell him was: “do not worry, you are fine, you can stay in the country, as long as you do not leave and can look for a job). Sadly Jerry then tried to use his care card to go to his general practician, to discover it was no longer valid. Thrown off to the wolves, with no right, nowhere to go with his partner, as of course, with his visa cancelled, so was mine. Oh yes, and by the way,
With a great resume behind him, he tried , tried, so hard to find a job…But in Vancouver, if you left Lululemon, which is supposedly the place to be, NO ONE will be interested, because no one dares to challenge Chip Wilson s empire. Never mind the cult behavior, never mind the child labour they use abroad, the very poor quality of clothes, everyone will just follow.
People who were supposed to be his mentors, his friends never replied his calls. Sheree Waterson, who was supposed to be his mentor, never even bothered to say” i cannot give you a reference”. It was not so hard to do, was it? Oh and Margaret Wheeler, the LA trip’s snitch, i have not forgotten you: can you seriously sleep at night?
And lastly: Jerry discovered than though he got a severance package, a straight family who went through our same fate was offered way more and also had their relocation paid for.
What? Aren’t we supposed to be a family as well?
Jerry who truly believed in the good of people tried and tried again to find a valid reason to carry on. Yes of course we had each others, but a 46 years old man deserves some kind of validation after being let go from a company he admired, from a company where he listened to his female colleagues break up storied, held them as they cried: HE CARED. But he would have loved people to care back.
People will say he was selfish, left me behind: no he didn’t. Sadly he intended for me to go with him. He hung himself. Terrible death. But he left on side an unopened bottle of wine and sleeping pills for me to follow him (he took sleeping pills after the firing incident as the whole bullying went on).
He left no will, which means: outside Canada, i am nothing to him. His sister, whose first question was upon being told of his death “did he leave something for my daughter”?” pockets everything.
The point of my story is:
-US OR ANY COUNTRY SHOULD HAVE NATIONAL/FEDERAL GAY MARRIAGE TO ALLOW PEOPLE LIKE JERRY AN ME TO BE TOGETHER, EVEN IF FROM DIFFERENT NATIONALITY.
-LULULEMON IS EN EVIL CULTISH DISCRIMINATING COMPANY THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE YOGA PHILOSOPHY WHATSOEVER. “MONEY IS BETTER THAN FRIENDS” IN THEIR CASE
-THERE IS A MAJOR HOLE IN THE LAW FOR ANY MULTINATIONAL GAY COUPLE TO STAY TOGETHER
-AND LOT OF DIFFICULTIES FOR THE LIVING PARTNER TO GET HIS SHARE UPON THE OTHER’S DEATH WHEN FAMILY DOES NOT AGREE.
JERRY ENRIQUEZ WAS 47, A SUCCESSFUL MARKETING PROFESSIONAL, A GOOD MAN, A DEVOTED HUSBAND, WHO HUNG HIMSELF THANKS TO AMERICAN POLITICS AND LULULEMON.
I AM WILFRIED CHEVALIER, BETTER KNOW AS WILFRIED KNIGHT, PROUD OF EVERYTHING I HAVE DONE. AND A DISTRAUGHT WIDOW.
Personally i do not know how people in Lululemon can look at themselves in the mirror.
You people, just imagine the guy you worked with, hanging from a rope, cold and still, and foaming at the mouth. I wish i had taken a picture to show you. Good luck living with yourself
Documentation is available if not stolen from me before that. I got personally threatened, in order for me to not to speak.
Future will tell”
Sites such as The Sword and Queer Fever have picked up the story, but none have made the important point – to blame the deaths squarely on the immigration laws that discriminate against binational gay couples.
“Wilfried was a very respected and much loved colleague to many in the porn industry. The French stud started his career in porn in 2004 and worked for many famous studios and sites, including Men At Play, Colt Studios, Raging Stallion and Lucas Entertainment. He even did a scene for Lucas Entertainment’s latest movie “Kings of New York”. In 2005 he was named hottest porn star of the year by Out Magazine, in 2010 he was named performer of the year at the GayVN Awards and in 2011 he won a Grabby for best versatile performer. In the meantime, fellow porn stars, gay porn studios and everyone who knew Wilfred are sending their last words of love and appreciation to Wilfried through Twitter.”
The United States is currently considering controversial comprehensive immigration reform, and the question of including gays in immigration equality is a hotbed issues. The religious Evangelicals, Hispanic religious groups, and Catholics are fiercely advocating against the inclusion of same-sex couples in the new immigration reform. See my article at http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2013/03/08/god-forbid-equality-same-sex-couples-right-to-immigration-equality-attacked-by-hispanic-catholic-evangelical-coalition/
The immediate remedy for binational same-sex spouses in the USA would be passage of pending legislation, The Uniting American Families Act, which has been reintroduced into Congress by New York, Rep. Jerold Nadler. This stand alone bill will allow American same-sex permanent partners/spouses to sponsor foreign partners/spouses for green cards. I imagine had such a law been in place, Jerry and Wilfried may be alive and well and living in the U.S.A.
By Melanie Nathan, [email protected]
Need help? Visit The Trevor Project’s website or call them at 1-866-488-7386. In the U.S.
you can also call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
or visit stopbullying.gov.
You can also visit Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) website for more resources.
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