Showing posts with label Gay Love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Love. Show all posts

July 3, 2019

LGBTQ 5 Year Journey of Documenting Their Love Stories in China



 
       
SHURAN HUANG
  Although China officially decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, activists say the stigma around being LGBTQ — and discussing it publicly — remains today.
In the past few years, Chinese Web censors have made headlines for repeatedly targeting depictions of homosexuality. In a 2018 survey by the U.N. and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, only 5% of LGBTQ people in China felt comfortable being out at work.
Italian-born photographer Raul Ariano is currently based between Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He says he traveled from Italy because he was fascinated by "Chinese people and their way of adapting themselves in the fast-paced change of their society."
Over dinner during Ariano's first weekend in mainland China, he says he was talking with a friend who called LGBTQ people "sick and dangerous."
"I was shocked to hear that," Ariano says.
So, over the course of five years, Ariano set out to photograph more than 30 LGBTQ participants across mainland China — eventually turning the project into a portrait series.
He says his goal was to "share stories of love, dignity and hope in a segment of society that tends to be hidden in China." 
Because many people avoid coming out to their parents and relatives for fear of being rejected, Ariano says he constantly faced difficulties finding willing participants. He almost gave up on the project several times.
But between commercial and editorial assignments, he reached out to the local community with the help of PFLAG China, an organization based in Guangzhou City.
Ariano photographed participants in their apartments, with natural lighting and different colors to show the intimacy between couples.
He says he was inspired by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai's 1997 movie Happy Together. The movie is famous for his masterful explorations of colors and blurs and its distinctive style.
Ariano says getting access to such private spaces in people's lives was the most challenging part of the project.
But the concept of home was compelling for him. He says it's "the space where the couples share their time, their intimacy, and is a sort of shelter where they are protected and can be their real selves."
Throughout the series, Ariano met LGBTQ people across mainland China. Some had the support of their families. Others had been forced to endure conversion therapy.
"But the most incredible thing I have felt was the strength and the determination of those people to live the life they want," he says. "Whatever it takes."
Raul Ariano is an Italian photographer based in Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Shuran Huang is NPR's photo intern.

October 23, 2018

DNA Differences May Be Linked to Having Same Sex Partners






 

sicencenews.org



SAN DIEGO —
 For some people, choosing a same-sex partner may be in their DNA.
In a large study of more than 490,000 men and women in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden, researchers discovered four genetic variants that occur more often in people who indicated on questionnaires that they had had same-sex sexual partners. Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard reported the results October 19 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. Two of the variants were specific to men’s sexual partner choice. The other two influence sex partner choice for both men and women.

Collectively, the DNA differences explained only 8 to 12 percent of the heritability of having same-sex partners. “There is no gay gene,” Ganna said, “but rather non-heterosexuality is influenced by many tiny-effect genetic factors.”

The new study is an advance over previous attempts to find “gay genes,” says J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who was not involved in the new work. The study’s size is its main advantage, Bailey says. “It’s huge. Huge.”

Researchers examined DNA data from more than 400,000 participants in the U.K. Biobank and more than 69,000 people who had their DNA tested by the consumer testing company 23andMe. People who have given their DNA data to those research projects also answered a battery of questions, including ones about whether they had ever had a partner of the same sex and how many sexual partners they have had. The findings were replicated with data from three other studies, including one from Sweden. Findings from such large studies are more likely to be replicated than the small studies in the past, Bailey says. Researchers have “really gotten these studies down now and if they find things, it’s pretty sure that they’re true.”
Previous sexual orientation genetic studies, including some Bailey was involved in, may also have suffered from bias because they relied on volunteers. People who offer to participate in a study, without being randomly selected, may not reflect the general population, he says. This study includes both men and women and doesn’t rely on twins, as many previous studies have, he says. “It’s a huge advance … but it doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.”
For instance, the study doesn’t address people’s attraction to members of the same sex. Some people who have had sex with a same-sex partner don’t consider themselves gay and aren’t exclusively attracted to people of the same sex, Bailey says. He calls the study’s definition of non-heterosexual behavior as having ever had a same-sex partner “a flawed, but not ridiculous indicator of sexual orientation.”

Men in the new study who said they have had same-sex partners, tended to be more exclusively homosexual than women were, Ganna and colleagues found. But people of both sexes ran the gamut of sexual orientations. In the U.K. Biobank dataset, for example, younger people reported having same-sex partners more often than older people did, probably because homosexual activity was illegal in the United Kingdom until 1967.
This is not the only complex human phenomenon for which we see a genetic influence without a great understanding of how that influence works.
— Lisa Diamond

This is the first DNA difference ever linked to female sexual orientation, says Lisa Diamond, a psychologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who studies the nature and development of same-sex sexuality. The results are consistent with previous studies suggesting genetics may play a bigger role in influencing male sexuality than female sexuality. It’s not unusual for one sex of a species to be more fluid in their sexuality, choosing partners of both sexes, Diamond says. For humans, male sexuality may be more tightly linked to genes.





But that doesn’t mean that genes control sexual behavior or orientation. “Same-sex sexuality appears to be genetically influenced, but not genetically determined,” Diamond says. “This is not the only complex human phenomenon for which we see a genetic influence without a great understanding of how that influence works.” Other complex human behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol use, personality and even job satisfaction all have some genetic component.
Previous research had suggested that genes influencing sexual orientation were located on the X chromosome (SN: 11/4/95. p. 295; SN: 7/7/93, p. 37). But Ganna and colleagues found no evidence that the X chromosome is involved in partner choice, he said.

Instead, the researchers found genetic variants known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, located on four other chromosomes. SNPs are naturally occurring spots in the DNA where some people have one DNA base, or letter, and other people have another. The variants didn’t change any genes, but were found near some genes that may be involved.

For instance, a variant on chromosome 15 linked to men having sex with men is also associated with male pattern baldness. Another variant in the study is near the ORA51A gene on chromosome 11, which is involved in the ability to smell certain chemicals. That’s interesting because smell has been linked to attraction before (SN Online: 3/12/15), Ganna said.  The researchers don’t yet know exactly which genes are involved in mate choice or exactly how they influence behavior.

One mystery the discovery may help solve is how genetic variants associated with having same-sex partners could persist across generations. Such variants would presumably get weeded out if men and women who have sex with people of the same sex don’t have children or have fewer children than the average person.


 Its not a choice but an orientation


In the new study, the more exclusively homosexual partners men had, the fewer children they had; up to 80 percent fewer children than heterosexual men. In a preliminary conference report, the researchers suggested that the variants are associated with heterosexuals having more sexual partners than usual, and that heterosexual men with some of the variants are more attractive than those without. Those traits would give heterosexuals a greater chance to pass the variants on to offspring, keeping those DNA differences in the gene pool. Ganna did not discuss those possibilities from the podium. 

Diamond disagrees that researchers need to find a mechanism to explain the persistence of genetic variants linked to homosexuality. Same-sex behavior has never completely supplanted heterosexual mating in any species studied, she says. Only in the last 50 years have gay people tended to exclusively choose same-sex partners, she says. “You don’t really need some reproductive benefit for same-sex sexuality, because same-sex sexuality almost never occurs exclusively. Individuals with that predisposition have been mating and reproducing with heterosexual partners for millennia, and that’s why it’s still in the gene pool.”

November 18, 2017

Married Anti Gay GOP Representative Quits After Caught in The Moment with Another Man




 Men loving Wes and his Wes loving wife Bethany




A Republican representative who campaigned against gay rights has quit after he was caught having gay sex in his office. Wes Goodman, 33, admitted to the House Speaker that he had consensual sex with another man in his office in Ohio. Jesse Jackson reveals he's battling Parkinson's disease Mr. Goodman, who is in his first term, has previously pushed for ‘a committed natural marriage’ – i.e. between a man and a woman. On his campaign website, he wrote: ‘Healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families are the source of Ohio’s proud history and the key to Ohio’s future greatness. 

‘The ideals of a loving father and mother, a committed natural marriage, and a caring community are well worth pursuing and protecting.’ Pictured here with his wife, Bethany Goodman (Picture: Facebook) The sex with another man is said to have happened several months ago at his Riffe Center office and he is not believed to have been on Goodman’s staff. The man has not complained about the sex, but another person is said to have witnessed it and informed the Chief of Staff. 

Elon Musk unveils 'fastest production car ever' during the launch of Tesla semi-truck Goodman has removed his social media accounts amid rumors that had been spreading about his conduct. But after being caught with his pants down, he’s now quit. He said: ‘We all bring our own struggles and our own trials into public life. That has been true for me, and I sincerely regret that my actions and choices have kept me from serving my constituents and our state in a way that reflects the best ideals of public service.   He said he sincerely regretted his actions as he stood down (Picture: Facebook) ‘For those whom I have let down, I’m sorry.’ 

Republican House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger said he learned  on Tuesday that Goodman had engaged in ‘inappropriate behavior related to his state office.’ ‘I met with him later in the day where he acknowledged and confirmed the allegations,’ Rosenberger said in a statement. ‘It became clear that his resignation was the most appropriate course of action for him, his family, the constituents of the 87th House District and this institution.’ 

According to his website, Goodman is a conservative Christian and former congressional campaign staffer to Republican U.S. Representative Jim Jordan. He served as managing director of the Conservative Action Project, leading ‘the fight for conservative principles like the balanced budget, lower taxes, repealing Obamacare, life, and religious liberty,’ his site says. 

Donald Trump looks like he's passing very uncomfortable stool in latest photo fail His resignation is the latest to hit the Ohio Legislature since sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced, touching off a national wave of similar alleged misconduct by entertainers, politicians, and others. Veteran Ohio Senator Clifford Hite, a Republican from Findlay, resigned on October 16 after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him. According to an investigative memo, Hite had inappropriate conversations and physical contact with a female legislative staff member for two months and repeatedly propositioned her for sex.





August 15, 2017

Tom Daley and Lance Black Share Their Wedding Photos a 22 and 42 Match!







This couple tells us once again their 20 year distance makes no difference between them but the chemistry and caring they feel for each other. When you love 💖another man all the sexual accents and beautiful words of Romeo and Juliott together with just the fluffing your lovers pillow at night fuses together a "loving 💘relationship" It will never be plain fields but hills, valleys and sometimes mountains to climb but the love can keep them together for 70 more years. Whatever the future hold for them, by the way they began this marriage teach a lesson to those of us that might forget what loving is, real💗 loving that is. It is better to have loved and failed to have never love.  
The experience is recommended to almost anyone. Nothing matters when real love💓 comes in thru the door, window or back door. Not the hair, age, height or color of the skin. All of a sudden all become beautiful and shinny because the impulses are not coming from the eyes but from 💕💕an internal fountain that flows when someone makes us laugh and cry and happy𞠒👬


 "I married the love of my life': Tom Daley, 22, gushes about new husband Dustin Lance Black, 42, as they share the first photos from their stunning castle wedding.

They vowed to spend the rest of their lives together in a lavish wedding ceremony at Bovey Castle, near Plymouth, Devon on Saturday.




August 13, 2017

"Out in the Country" A Film About An Intense Love Relationship Between Two Men


 
     
 Francis Lee’s Yorkshire home has no mobile phone signal. “When I first moved here, I had to walk to the top of the moor before I could talk to anyone,” he says. “It’s wet and cold and windy up there. And I was very used to London life.”


Josh O’Connor, left, and Alec Secareanu 



The 48-year-old film director is in his cottage near Haworth, the village that was home to the Brontës. A few miles down the road, in Soyland, lies his parents’ farm, where his father still works the land and tends to his beasts. It was where Lee spent his childhood, and it was there, as a teenager, that he realized he was gay.

Last year, the farm was host to a fair amount of commotion. During lambing season, it was used as the setting for God’s Own Country, Lee’s directorial debut, which charts the almost silent romance between Johnny, a young, alcohol-addled, and sullen Yorkshire farmer, and Gheorghe, a self-possessed, gentle Romanian immigrant drafted in to help tend the flock.

For Lee, it was a return to his old life. At 20 he had left the farm for drama school in London, and had gone on to appear in TV shows such as Heartbeat, Casualty, and Midsomer Murders. In the evenings, he would navigate the east London gay scene — bars and clubs that acted as safe spaces for young men exploring their sexuality.

“I got to know a lot of gay men who were very masculine,” Lee says. “[But] although they slept with other men, they didn’t have access to their emotions, and would never dream of talking about how they felt. That strange inability of men to understand what they’re going through fascinated me.” It was the germ of an idea.

He thought about how difficult he had found the prospect of showing any weakness to a lover, even though he had taught himself to do so on demand in front of a camera. He also considered what might have happened if he had never left the farm. “I questioned how my life would have turned out,” he says. “What would I have done if I met someone I liked? Would I have been able to find love?” 

Josh O’Connor was cast to play Johnny. A middle-class Londoner who grew up in Cheltenham, O’Connor decided to try out his northern accent on his first meeting with Lee. “I just assumed he was a Yorkshireman,” says the director. “And he seemed, in his body language and mannerisms, to understand how repressed and unhappy Johnny would be.”

For the role of Gheorghe, a casting agent was sent to Bucharest and returned with the screen test of an actor called Alec Secareanu. Two years earlier, Secareanu had played a gay character on the stage in Budapest, and during the production homophobic militants stormed the theatre in protest. Secareanu used that experience in his depiction of Gheorghe, a man trying to find in this strange, new culture the things that gave him comfort at home in Romania.

Lee shot the film chronologically, using the seasons — winter turning to spring, the lambs taking their first breaths, plants struggling from the earth — as ellipses for the pair’s dawning relationship.

God’s Own Country premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where Lee was awarded the World Cinema Directing Award and the film was hailed by critics as Britain’s next great “gay” movie. It was fêted for its northern, rural setting, and its understanding of how immigration has affected such communities.

There is a lineage of British films dealing with similar subjects, among them Paweł Pawlikowski’s 2004 My Summer of Love (exploring the relationship between two women), the 1999 Channel 4 TV series Queer as Folk (set in the more urban environment of Manchester) and Stephen Frears’ 1985 My Beautiful Laundrette (depicting the romance between a working-class Londoner and the son of immigrants). “It was important to me to make a film that can exist in the ‘queer’ canon,” Lee says. “But I never saw the story just in those terms.”

He bridles at the stereotypes associated with farming life. “There’s an assumption that, because Johnny’s a farmer, he has to deal with homophobia,” Lee says. “I come from that world, and I’ve never encountered that . . . Homophobia is not somehow inherent in rural, working-class communities.”

Much was made of the debt God’s Own Country owed to Brokeback Mountain, the seminal gay romance made in 2005 by Ang Lee. The correlation is understandable. Both films follow the lives of sheep farmers who act impulsively on their mutual attraction.

Yet the similarities purposely end there. “The comparison to Brokeback is not one I shy away from,” Lee says. “That film was very important to me when it was released, but I haven’t watched it since. It’s very located in a particular time and place, and my film explores a very different time and place.”

While in Brokeback both men use their wives as accomplices in denial, in God’s Own Country Johnny’s mother finds a condom casually left on the floor and merely tuts in irritation. We realize she knows her son is gay, even if it goes unsaid.

“I didn’t want to make a ‘coming out’ film,” Lee says. “I felt that, as a culture, we’ve covered that. I wanted to make a film about masculinity, repression, and emotion. The men here just also happen to be gay.”

Throughout the history of LGBT cinema, a damaging trope has predominated: bad things happen to gay people, and they will never find enduring love. God’s Own Country sets out to contradict that. In Brokeback, love cannot exist. Here, love between two men is normalized and dramatized without recourse to sentimentality or exoticism.

If God’s Own Country owes a debt to any film, it’s to a smaller, more humble but no less accomplished movie: Weekend, Andrew Haigh’s 2011 debut, which follows the conversations of two men over the course of a weekend as they try to work out whether they should take their sexual connection further.

“Weekend was a big moment for me,” Lee says. “It was exciting to see what could be achieved, and the discussion that film created at the time. But we’ve moved on a lot as a society, even since the release of Weekend.

“Gay spaces have been homogenized into straight culture,” he adds. “Gay people are now very comfortable moving in mixed environments. But, often because of economic reasons, gay spaces have been obliterated. The characters in my film wouldn’t necessarily seek out such spaces, but they aren’t available to them, either. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.”

The release of God’s Own Country has been timed to coincide closely with the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalized homosexual acts in the UK — so long as they were kept private.

Seen from this perspective, Lee’s film is both a testament and a challenge. It questions our willingness to see gay stories as larger stories, rather than as emissaries from a separate culture.

“We’ve come so far,” Lee says of the gay community’s struggle to be fully accepted by wider society. “But we can never be complacent, we can never start to think the fight has been won.

“But I didn’t worry about that here. This is a film about everyone’s attempts to love and be loved. That’s the toughest thing any of us will ever do, no matter who you are.”

‘God’s Own Country’ is released in the UK on September 1 and in the US in October

Photographs: Agatha A Nitecka



July 15, 2017

Love Letters From TwoGay Soldiers Risking Being Shot, Still Love was Greater




While on military training during World War Two, Gilbert Bradley was in love. He exchanged hundreds of letters with his sweetheart - who merely signed with the initial "G". But more than 70 years later, it was discovered that G stood for Gordon, and Gilbert had been in love with a man.
At the time, not only was homosexuality illegal, but those in the armed forces could be shot for having gay sex. 
The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley's death in 2008, are therefore unusual and shed an important light on homosexual relationships during the war.
What do we know about this forbidden love affair?

Wednesday January 24th 1939
My darling,
... I lie awake all night waiting for the postman in the early morning, and then when he does not bring anything from you I just exist, a mass of nerves...
All my love forever, 
G.

Information gleaned from the letters indicate Mr Bradley was a reluctant soldier. He did not want to be in the Army, and even pretended to have epilepsy to avoid it. 
His ruse did not work, though, and in 1939 he was stationed at Park Hall Camp in Oswestry, Shropshire, to train as an anti-aircraft gunner.
He was already in love with Gordon Bowsher. The pair had met on a houseboat holiday in Devon in 1938 when Mr Bowsher was in a relationship with Mr Bradley's nephew.
Mr Bowsher was from a well-to-do family. His father ran a shipping company, and the Bowshers also owned tea plantations.
When war broke out a year later he trained as an infantryman and was stationed at locations across the country.

February 12 1940, Park Grange
My own darling boy,
There is nothing more than I desire in life but to have you with me constantly...
...I can see or I imagine I can see, what your mother and father's reaction would be... the rest of the world have no conception of what our love is - they do not know that it is love...

But life as a homosexual in the 1940s was incredibly difficult. Gay activity was a court-martial offence, jail sentences for so-called "gross indecency" were common, and much of society strongly disapproved of same-sex relationships.
It was not until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that consenting men aged 21 and over were legally allowed to have gay relationships - and being openly gay in the armed services was not allowed until 2000.
The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley's death in 2008, are rare because most homosexual couples would get rid of anything so incriminating, says gay rights activist Peter Roscoe. 
In one letter Mr Bowsher urges his lover to "do one thing for me in deadly seriousness. I want all my letters destroyed. Please darling do this for me. Til then and forever I worship you."
Mr Roscoe says the letters are inspiring in their positivity.
"There is a gay history and it isn't always negative and tearful," he says. "So many stories are about arrests - Oscar Wilde, Reading Gaol and all those awful, awful stories.
"But despite all the awful circumstances, gay men and lesbians managed to rise above it all and have fascinating and good lives despite everything."

February 1st, 1941 K . C. Gloucester Regiment, Priors Road, Cheltenham
My darling boy,
For years I had it drummed into me that no love could last for life...
I want you darling seriously to delve into your own mind, and to look for once in to the future.
Imagine the time when the war is over and we are living together... would it not be better to live on from now on the memory of our life together when it was at its most golden pitch.
Your own G.


envelopeImage copyrightOSWESTRY TOWN MUSEUM
lettersImage copyrightOSWESTRY TOWN MUSEUM

But was this a love story with a happy ending?
Probably not. At one point, Mr Bradley was sent to Scotland on a mission to defend the Forth Bridge. He met and fell in love with two other men. Rather surprisingly, he wrote and told Mr Bowsher all about his romances north of the border. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Mr Bowsher took it all in his stride, writing that he "understood why they fell in love with you. After all, so did I".
Although the couple wrote throughout the war, the letters stopped in 1945. 
However, both went on to enjoy interesting lives.
Mr Bowsher moved to California and became a well-known horse trainer. In a strange twist, he employed Sirhan Sirhan, who would go on to be convicted of assassinating Robert Kennedy.
Mr Bradley was briefly entangled with the MP Sir Paul Latham, who was imprisoned in 1941 following a court martial for "improper conduct" with three gunners and a civilian. Sir Paul was exposed after some "indiscreet letters" were discovered.
Mr Bradley moved to Brighton and died in 2008. A house clearance company found the letters and sold them to a dealer specialising in military mail.
The letters were finally bought by Oswestry Town Museum, when curator Mark Hignett was searching on eBay for items connected with the town. 
He bought just three at first, and says the content led him to believe a fond girlfriend or fiancé was the sender. There were queries about bed sheets, living conditions - and their dreams for their future life together.

Park Hall CampImage copyrightOSWESTRY TOWN MUSEUM
Image captionGilbert Bradley was stationed at Park Hall Camp in Oswestry in 1939

When he spotted there were more for sale, he snapped them up too - and on transcribing the letters for a display in the museum, Mr Hignett and his colleagues discovered the truth. The "girlfriend" was a boyfriend.
The revelation piqued Mr Hignett's interest - he describes his experience as being similar to reading a book and finding the last page ripped out: "I just had to keep buying the letters to find out what happened next."
Although he's spent "thousands of pounds" on the collection of more than 600 letters, he believes in terms of historical worth the correspondence is "invaluable". 
"Such letters are extremely rare because they were incriminating - gay men faced years in prison with or without hard labour," he says. "There was even the possibility that gay soldiers could have been shot."
Work on a book is already under way at the museum, where the letters will also go on display.
Perhaps most poignantly, one of the letters contains the lines: 
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are."
BBC


January 16, 2017

Defense Ministry Gay Themed TV Episode Shown on China Pulled by YouTube



  

TAIPEI, Taiwan --YouTube has pulled an episode of the Defense Ministry's TV show that features a soldier broken up with by his same-sex partner.

Titled "Rainbow," the half-hour segment of the Ministry of National Defense's "Ju-guang Corner" (莒光園地) showed service members supporting a gay soldier who recently loses an off-base love interest.

The show is broadcast nationwide over Chinese Television System (華視) on Thursday, with reruns on Friday and Saturday.

The official online version of the video was removed by YouTube after users flagged it on grounds that it violated community guidelines. Cached backups of the episode remain online.

The Alliance of Crying for Hope (搶救台灣希望聯盟) blasted the "Rainbow" segment -- calling the government "shameful" and "needing medical attention."

"Imagine what kind of island Taiwan would become if the military became the breeding ground for AIDS. Taiwan's own self-destruction means that China wouldn't even need to invade," the post added.

Before the video's removal, a majority of comments in the discussion section was supportive of the episode, with some applauding the ministry's decision to face the issue of LGBT service members.

In a statement released on Facebook on Friday, the MND said it was "thankful and respectful of diverse societal opinions."

"The segment highlights the consolidated workings of counseling and members of the military supporting one another during difficult times. Combined with support from families, the counseling framework ensures that soldiers can serve with peace of mind," the MND stated.

Taiwan’s Legislature is poised to consider groundbreaking amendments to its civil code this year that legalize same-sex marriage.

The China Post news staff

February 20, 2016

Two Soldiers Find Love in Iraq then Loose it but they find a way




Betu Allami (left) and Nayyef Hrebid (right) met in 2004, during the seige of Ramadi. Hrebid was a translator with the U.S. Marines, and Allami was an Iraqi soldier.
                          Betu Allami (left) and Nayyef Herebid (right)  met in 2004 during the Iraq war but took a decade to find a home
 
 

KUOW PHOTO/ISOLDE RAFTERY
This is a story about love and war; love lost and love found again.
In 2004, Nayyef Hrebid was an interpreter for the U.S. Marines in Iraq, and Betu Allami was a soldier with the Iraqi Army.
Ramadi General Hospital had been taken over by insurgents, and Hrebid and Allami were part of a mission to reclaim the hospital. It was a dangerous mission, in a dangerous city, at a dangerous time in the war. 
At night, after the stress of the day was over, the two men would come together in a safe house to recover. They would eat a meal, then sit in the back garden and talk for hours.
Hrebid said those conversations helped keep him sane during a difficult time. 
"Because, you know, we see dead people. We fight. So what we talk about is our life and past, about how we feel, about where we like to be in the future," Hrebid said. "And that was very beautiful in that difficult moment." 
Neither were openly gay, but they knew they had feelings for each other. After just four days, Allami told Hrebid, "I love you." In response, Hrebid kissed him. Allami said he was so excited, he didn't eat for two days.
But this was Iraq, and being gay was not OK. If they were caught, they could go to jail for 15 years, or worse.
"To be gay in Iraq, it's very dangerous," Hrebid said. "It's losing your life. You get shame to the family. You lose your family, and you lose your friends, you lose everything almost. That is why there is other ways to be gay, just between you and maybe the other person."
For nearly five years, Hrebid and Allami kept their love a secret. Sometimes, friends would help to arrange rendezvous. But they could not love in the open. Then, in 2009, Hrebid's life became dangerous for another reason. He was targeted by militants for his work as a translator.
"They start writing our names in the street; I cannot meet my family any more, and all my neighborhood knew I work with the Americans, so they call me traitor," he said.
With the help of a U.S. Marine captain, Hrebid was granted asylum and came to live in the United States. He settled in Seattle in 2009. But he had to leave Allami in Iraq.
Allami said he was happy to know that Hrebid was safe and could finally live life as an out gay man. "But me, I live in Iraq. Is now just me, and so difficult," Allami said.
"I was feeling very guilty to leave him behind," Hrebid said.  
The two stayed in constant contact, by phone or Skype or other means. Hrebid spent years trying to find a way to bring Allami to live with him in Seattle.
Because of Allami's military history, it was difficult to get permission for him to enter the U.S. Meanwhile, his life had also become dangerous. A relative had discovered that Allami was gay, and Allami feared for his life.
With the help of friends, Hrebid got Allami to safety in Beiruit, Lebanon. Then Hrebid found a way to get Allami to Vancouver, Canada, where Hrebid could come visit him.
They lived across the border from each other and saw each other every week. They married in a small ceremony in Canada on Valentine’s Day, 2014.

                                                               
Finally, in early 2015, the couple got an appointment with U.S. Immigration. Hrebid clearly remembers the day.
"That day was one of my biggest days, ever. We went there and I had a bunch of paper, photos and letters to prove our relationship. And the interview was only 10 minutes. She asked specific questions about how we met, how long we've been together, and how we connect with each other. After that she said, 'You've been approved for a visa to live in the United States,'" Hrebid said.
He was shocked and began to cry and scream immediately. "I lost myself. I really lost myself because this finally is happening. We could live together," he said. "I want to wake up to up see him in front me. And when I close my eyes, he's the last face I see."
The two were married on the Olympic Peninsula in August 2015 in what they call their "dream wedding." They now live on Capitol Hill in Seattle. After more than a decade living apart, they are grateful to — at long last — be able to share a roof and a bed.
"We have home," says Allami, "apartment, but ..." 
Hrebid jumps in. “It is like a palace, to us."
 
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Good Morning Sunday:Dutch Gay penguin Steals Egg From Another Couple Now Trying To Hatch it

  JORDAN HIRST Stock photo of African penguins. Photo: Charles J Sharp/Wikimedia Commons A gay penguin couple at a Nethe...