This Syrian Couple’s Reunion Will Make You Believe In True Love

This Syrian Couple’s Reunion Will Make You Believe In True Love

Love knows no borders.


“Nothing tastes better than seeing you another time, and to be with you forever and ever. I’ve finally done it!”


Nader and Omar on a rooftop in central Istanbul. Bradley Secker

Nader and Omar had been through a lot since meeting at one of Istanbul’s best-known gay clubs, Tek Yön. As Syrian refugees, the two moved in together and forged a life in the city — until a call came and Nader received news that his resettlement application with UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, had been successful. Having been granted political asylum in Norway, the gay Syrian man left his life in Istanbul, his home since June 2014, for a city he knew relatively nothing about in northern Europe.

Both men were caught between happiness and melancholy, knowing that making their relationship work long-distance would be hard; there was no news on Omar’s resettlement application.

Since same-sex partnership or marriage isn’t legal in their homeland or in Turkey, despite being engaged the couple couldn’t have their files with the UNHCR joined. If they were a heterosexual Syrian couple, the situation would have been a lot easier, and they would have both been saved a lot of mental torment.

During Omar’s birthday party in Istanbul, Nader places a ring on Omar’s finger after accepting Nader’s marriage proposal.

During Omar's birthday party in Istanbul, Nader places a ring on Omar's finger after accepting Nader's marriage proposal.

Bradley Secker

And amid roaring applause, the couple embrace as sign of their love and commitment to each other.

And amid roaring applause, the couple embrace as sign of their love and commitment to each other.

Bradley Secker

On the eve of Nader’s departure to Norway, the couple speak to Omar’s mother before Nader packs his luggage.

On the eve of Nader's departure to Norway, the couple speak to Omar's mother before Nader packs his luggage.

Bradley Secker

While packing, it’s difficult for Nader not to think of what he’ll be leaving behind: his job, his friends, and his fiancé.

While packing, it's difficult for Nader not to think of what he'll be leaving behind: his job, his friends, and his fiancé.

Bradley Secker

Still, the couple do their best to stay in the moment, and share a last kiss.

Still, the couple do their best to stay in the moment, and share a last kiss.

Bradley Secker

Six months pass after Nader’s arrival to Bergen, Norway, and the couple have remained in contact, despite the uncertainty of ever seeing each other again.

Six months pass after Nader's arrival to Bergen, Norway, and the couple have remained in contact, despite the uncertainty of ever seeing each other again.

Nader texts with Omar from the top of Mt. Fløyen, overlooking Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen. Bradley Secker

Then the news arrives: Omar has finally been granted political asylum in Norway, and will be resettled to join his partner.

Then the news arrives: Omar has finally been granted political asylum in Norway, and will be resettled to join his partner.

Bradley Secker

Without hesitation, Nader jumps into action and frenziedly prepares for his partner’s arrival.

Without hesitation, Nader jumps into action and frenziedly prepares for his partner's arrival.

Bradley Secker

At the airport, Nader waits anxiously for Omar’s plane to arrive from Istanbul.

Bradley Secker

Carrying a single rose for Omar, it’s difficult for Nader to contain his excitement.

Bradley Secker

Then, the moment finally arrives…

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

…and after months of separation, Omar and Nader are reunited in Bergen.

Bradley Secker

On the verge of tears, Omar is led into his new apartment and greeted with a surprise.

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Nader has filled the room with candles in the shape of a heart — and in the middle, they’ve been arranged to make the letters “N” and “O,” for their first initials.

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

Bradley Secker

The contents of the two suitcases that contained his life show the fluid dichotomy of Omar’s identity as gay and Muslim: bright-pink penis slippers, a Muslim prayer mat, Syrian and Turkish sweets, a dildo, a rainbow flag, a Qur’an, skimpy underwear, winter jackets, and a semi-transparent belly-dancing outfit.

Making a new city one’s home takes time. Nader and Omar are both studying Norwegian and have plenty of opportunities ahead of them. Leaving behind the stepping-stone that was Istanbul, a place where Nader initiated a weekly meeting for Arabic-speaking LGBT refugees called “Tea & Talk,” and a thriving city where the couple lived through a thousand different emotions, the two have found a rare happy ending.

On his first morning in Bergen, Omar said, “Look, I didn’t have to come by boat and walk through Europe — I came by plane! When it took off I said, ‘Thank god!’”

Soon reality began to hit the pair, and they found themselves happily holding each other on their sofa, smiling.

Bradley Secker

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