US

2 Gay Iraqi Soldiers Found Love Amid War

Then the death threats started

Each night, when the guns fell silent, Btoo Allami would invite Nayyef Hrebid over for dinner.

The two first locked eyes on a dusty battlefield in Ramadi, Iraq.

After days of exchanging glances amid gunfire, they snuck away one night to listen to Michael Jackson on shared earbuds.

Out of Iraq/CNN

Neither Hrebid, a translator for the US Marines, or Allami, a sergeant in the Iraqi military knew the other was gay.

Out of Iraq/CNN

Same-sex attraction is not openly discussed in Iraq.

Despite the risks, Allami took a chance two weeks after they met and told Hrebid “I love you.”

Out of Iraq/CNN

Their relationship grew, but in secret.

Then word got out that Hrebid was gay and people started talking. It was time to leave.

Out of Iraq/CNN

Hrebid applied for asylum in March 2009 and relocated to Seattle eight months later.

Amber Fouts/CNN

Seven thousand miles apart, the two kept their promise to keep in touch.

One night, as they chatted on Skype, Allami’s relatives overheard and realized he was gay. They wanted him killed.

Out of Iraq/CNN

Terrified, Allami deserted the military and fled to Lebanon. Three years later, he was accepted for asylum in Canada.

Out of Iraq/CNN

In May 2013, Allami arrived in Vancouver, only 150 miles from Hrebid in Seattle.

Out of Iraq/CNN

The two were married on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Allami finally moved to Seattle to be with Hrebid about a year later in March 2015.

Amber Fouts/CNN

They had their dream wedding ceremony in August and Allami applied for a greencard.

Out of Iraq/CNN

The couple now relishes life in Seattle with their Siberian Husky, Cesar, and cat, Lodus.

Amber Fouts/CNN

Their love story has been made into an Emmy-winning documentary titled “Out of Iraq.”

Out of Iraq/CNN

I may not have my country anymore, but he’s my country now.

Allami