If you think making a gay relationship work is difficult, wait'll you see what these guys did for love. Yesterday, Damian and I had the privilege and honor to attend a special screening of "Out of Iraq," hosted by none other than Samantha Power, the LGBT friendly U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in the headquarters' ECOSOC Chamber, The documentary chronicles the romance of Nayyef, a translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq, and Btoo, an Iraqi soldier, who fell for each other in 2004 before Nayyef was forced to flee Iraq for his safety. It follows them to present-day, using an enormous about of (rather adorable) footage the two men took over the years to depict the incredible odds they overcame to stay together and be reunited in the U.S. after years of red tape that left Btoo stranded illegally in equally unsafe Beirut.
In addition to the Ms. Power, the lively pre-screening panel featured moderator Omar Sharif Jr., actor and LGBT advocate; film subjects Nayyef and Btoo; director Chris McKim; and Christine Matthews, deputy director of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who had the unenviable task of representing an office that is overworked, and made several crucial errors that kept the couple apart for years and nearly led to Btoo's murder. (There was also Nayyef's brother and his own family who would have been willing to kill him -- you know, lovely gay life in the Muslim world.)
I can't recommend "Out of Iraq" highly enough. It airs on Monday, June 13 on Logo. The documentary is co-directed by Academy and Emmy Award winner Eva Orner and Chris McKim and produced by World of Wonder and Logo Documentary Films.
Damian, Nayyef, Btoo and me
More photos HERE.
Reunited and it feels so good.