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My name is Dmitry. My husband and I are both asylum seekers from Russia. Thanks to Immigration Equality, this Valentine’s Day is the first that Tony and I will spend together as a married couple. In Russia, this would have been impossible!

I never felt safe in Russia. Eventually, I had to leave. On May 31, 2012, Immigration Equality helped me win asylum. I felt free, and happy, and ready to live my life. Just over a year later, I met Tony, who was visiting the U.S. We shared the struggle of growing up gay in Russia, and the years of abuse we endured. We fell in love. But Tony’s visa was about to expire, and he had no choice but to return to Moscow.

Every day we talked, video chatted and texted to stay connected despite our separation. But, the longer we were apart, the harder it was to be separated. And with conditions for LGBT people in Russia growing worse every day, I worried about Tony’s safety constantly. One night, he was harassed and detained by police outside a gay bar in Moscow. This was the final straw. On December 30, 2013, we were finally reunited. Tony returned to New York and we married in the spring of 2014, finally living our lives safely and openly as married gay men.

Because of all that Immigration Equality did for me, I knew they could help Tony. Thanks to them, Tony has now applied for asylum too. This Valentine’s Day, I ask you to remember how fortunate our families are to live safely in the United States and consider giving a gift to help support asylum seekers like us. With help from Immigration Equality, LGBT individuals from unsafe countries can dream of a future as bright and promising as mine.

Happy Valentine’s Day,