Two Iraqi soldiers who fell in love during the Iraq War have told their incredible love story on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show.
Iraqi-born couple Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami met in 2003 on a mission together when Nayyef was an interpreter for the US Marines and Btoo was an Iraqi soldier.
It was love at first sight, but their romance wasn’t just illegal – it could’ve gotten them killed.
“It’s too difficult being gay in Iraq. Family and friends, everyone, they say being gay is sick,” the couple explained on Ellen’s show.
“They find out about you and you either get tortured or killed. As our relationship grew, we felt we couldn’t stay.”
Both men were eventually granted asylum in the US, but spent four years apart before Btoo could join his partner in the country. They Skyped each other every day, the couple said.
The couple are now married and work in Seattle to help other LGBTI refugees in America who have fled similar prosecution.
“The LGBT youth who come from the Middle East, we help them with a place to stay, we explain about the culture, because they have culture shock,” Nayyef explained.
“They have good reasons to leave their homes, but it’s not easy for them.
“It wasn’t easy when I came here for the first time, with only $50 in my pocket. People helped us, now it’s our time to pay them back.”
The couple told Ellen they were living paycheck to paycheck, saving what they could to buy a house and start a family, when Ellen surprised the pair with a gift of $25,000.
Watch the couple’s Ellen appearance below: