Metro Weekly

Ellen celebrates gay Iraqi couple as “Everyday Heroes”

Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami escaped Iraq and now help LGBT refugees get settled in America

Btoo Allami and Nayyef Hrebid, Photo: The Ellen DeGeneres Show

If you need something to feel good about, Ellen DeGeneres is here to help.

Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami are a gay couple from Iraq who gained prominence last year when their story was told in the Logo documentary Out of Iraq. DeGeneres recently celebrated them as “Everyday Heroes” on her daytime talk show.

They met in 2003 when Hrebid was a translator for the U.S. army and Allami was a soldier in the Iraqi army. Though they quickly fell in love, homosexuality is illegal in Iraq and punishable by death.

“It’s too difficult to be gay in Iraq,” Hrebid said.

“Family and friends, everyone, they talk, gays, this is sick,” Allami added.

“If they find out about you, you either get tortured or get killed,” Hrebid continued.

The risk to their lives led to Hrebid applying for asylum through his work as a translator, which was granted, allowing him to move to America. Allami, fearing for his safety, fled to Lebanon, where he stayed for four years.

“We talking every single day,” Hrebid said. “And I mean it, every single day.”

They remained in constant contact through Skype, until eventually Allami was able to move to Canada and be with Hrebid. The pair married and now love in Seattle, where they work to help LGBT refugees from the Middle East establish their new lives in America.

After discussing their inspiring story, DeGeneres then surprised the couple — who are living paycheck to paycheck — with $25,000 to help them buy their first home together.

“We thought your story was incredible and I know how hard you’re working,” DeGeneres said. “You’re trying to save money for a house, so with help from Shutterfly, we want to help make new memories and we want to give you a check for $25,000.”

Watch their incredible reaction below:

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.