Loving a same-sex person is not easy when circumstances are not in your favor. Love can be difficult for everyone, but in the end love conquers all. This is what happened in the case of Betu Allami and Nayyef Hrebid, two men who felt for each other during Iraq war.
Betu and Nayyef met 12 years ago in Ramadi where they were both part of a mission to regain the local hospital that had been taken over by insurgents. Betu was a soldier with the Iraqi troupes and Nyyef a translator for the U.S. Marines. When they met, they didn’t know they were gay for each other, but gradually feelings grew wings.
“When we first met we cannot say we are gay for each other,” Nayyef revealed on Seattle radio station KUOW.
Betu described their first days together.
“First four days, I told you, ‘I love you.’ You don’t answer, just you kissed me and you leave. Two days I not eat anything, I’m so excited!”
They’ve dated for five long years, but not as any couple. They had to hide. Iraq is not a safe place for gay people.
“To be gay in Iraq, it’s very dangerous,” said Nayyef. “You lose your family and you lose your friends. You lose everything, almost.”
Then, things became more complicated when Nayyef started having troubles for his collaboration with the U.S. Marines.
“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,” Nayyef recalled.
In 2009 Nayeff was granted asylum in Seattle, U.S. due to the circumstances, but it was heartbreaking to leave his beloved boyfriend behind. Betu insisted that Nayeff left Iraq: “I love it, he’s safe. He goes safe life, he now told everyone on the outside, ‘I’m gay.’ He’s welcome in the United States.”
Despite the distance, the two of them kept on talking everyday. Betu started having problems because of his sexuality, as some information leaked, and Nayyef managed to move him to Beirut and from Beirut to Vancouver. They were closer and soon enough, Nayeff managed to get Batu a visa for the U.S.
After 10 years of love, war and distance, Nayeff and Betu found the place that respects their love and welcomes them as a same-sex couple. U.S. Immigration looked carefully into their story and gave Betu the visa of love.
“That was one of my biggest days,” Nayyef remembered.
Now, Betu and Nayeff live together on Capitol Hill in Seattle, WA, a town where they can be who they are and love each other freely.
“We could finally live together,” Nayyef 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.”
Listen to Nayyef’s own account about the first time he laid eyes on Betu: