When Russia attacked Ukraine and incited a war, Patrick G., director of technology workflow sales at ServiceNow and a member of the Pride at Now Belonging Group, knew he had to do something.
At the encouragement of a friend, he and his husband, Steffen, attended a meeting hosted by Rainbow Refugees, a nonprofit organization supporting LGBTQ people seeking refuge from dangerous situations. Within a few hours, they decided to open their home to refugees.
It didn’t take long for the couple to get connected to A. and S., whose identities we’ll keep partially concealed for their safety. Watch the video to learn how A. and S. survived a harrowing journey before achieving refugee status in Germany, where they joined Patrick and Steffen:
A perilous journey
Originally from Lebanon, where mainstream culture rejects LGBTQ people, A. and S. encountered harassment and ongoing suspicion, even while being extremely careful. Fearful for their lives, they decided to move to Ukraine, where A. had friends and family.
A. went first and waited six months for his partner to arrive. When the two were reunited, their joy was short-lived and bittersweet, as rumblings about a potential Russian aggression brewed in local conversations.
Right after A. received a job offer, the war broke out. Again, the couple feared for their lives. As bombs began to drop, A. and S. were forced into hiding in a metro station, amid dire conditions. An ambulance carried them to another train station that would eventually connect them to safety.
A place of refuge
Refusing to leave each other's sides, the couple found themselves in one dangerous situation after another, until they were finally able to make it to Romania. There, they slept in an LGBTQ museum for weeks. Local organization ACCEPT, along with Rainbow Refugees, worked to secure their refugee status in Germany.
“They tell us they've spoken to the German Embassy and managed to get the German Embassy to accept us, to recognize us as a couple,” A. shares. “That was very emotional for us at that moment, because we were never recognized as a couple.”
Settling in with Patrick and Steffen, the refugee couple is getting a new lease on life. They’re learning the German language and customs and beginning to feel comfortable as an openly gay couple. Both couples are enjoying cooking for each other and sharing their traditional foods.
Making a difference
“I always thought, ‘What about those who have not made the step out of these countries where they were?’” Steffen says. “There are still the police around where they are not able to live openly and not able to show their love to each other. This shows me how important this Pride Month still is.”
“I think this is something everyone out there can do,” Patrick adds. “We can give back. It might not be opening our houses. I know not everyone has the space. But there’s a thousand other ways to help.”
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