In Lockdown, a long distance romantic relationship grows stronger

Meerim Ilyas and Maheisha Adams met in April 2019 while attending European Lesbian Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine.

When the two decided to meet for dinner one night after the conference, they both assumed it was a professional invitation. By the end of the meal, however, the conversation going on was completely personal. The two left for dinner. Ms. Adams said: “Meerim is beautiful and intelligent, is a great conversationalist and is always vibrant with ideas.

But romance presents many challenges: they live thousands of miles apart and an ocean and their backgrounds are very different.

Ms. Adams, now 42, was raised on the plains of Guthrie, Okla., by her mother and the women of her extended family. After earning her bachelor’s degree in child development from Oklahoma State University, she earned her master’s degree in family relations and child development from Central Oklahoma University.

In 2005, Ms. Adams joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Kenya on a two-year commitment. She then stayed there to campaign for LGBTQ rights for another 5 years. She returned to the United States in 2011 and enrolled at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, where she earned a law degree. Ms. Adams is currently the State Department’s program officer in the Office for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, in Washington.

Ms. Ilyas, 44 years old, originally from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, grew up in the mountains of Central Asia. In 1997, when she graduated from high school at the age of 17, she received a grant to attend a community college in North Carolina.

With her limited English, which she learned from outdated British textbooks, Miss Ilyas lived with two host families, one white and one black. But as a Central Asian with a Muslim background, she doesn’t fit anywhere, she said.

Upon her return to Central Asia, she married an American student and moved back to the US, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington.

By the time she met Adams in Ukraine, she was divorced and a lesbian. Ilyas said: “Growing up I didn’t even know that there were gay people. “I don’t even know a word for women like me.”

After the conference, Ms. Adams and Ms. Ilyas spent the rest of 2019 arranging international meetings, combining business with pleasure when possible. In March 2020, when epidemic hit the mark, Miss Ilyas had traveled from Ireland to visit Ms. Adams in Washington, just as the coronavirus began to shut down.

Although a little worried, they still decided to isolate together. “Maheisha is down-to-earth and grounded and the best listener I have ever known,” said Ms. Ilyas. “Staying in the US for her is a risk I’m willing to take.”

Working remotely in Ms. Adams’ small apartment, the couple broke the monotony by hosting a dance party for two and cooking international meals.

In April 2021, Ms. Ilyas proposed to Ms. Adams with a necklace engraved with the Persian word for ‘my soul’. Ms. Adams’ father is Iranian; The necklace was both a nod to him and to her origin Ilyas.

On January 5, the couple married at San Francisco City Hall in the presence of eight guests, including Ms. Adams’ mother, Monica Adams, who is from Oklahoma. (Miss Ilyas’ family, who lives in Bishkek, was unable to make the trip.) Kay Edelman, the State of California representative, officially reported. Miss Ilyas wore a long black dress underneath a traditional Kyrgyz vest with exquisite gold stitching detail, while Ms Adams wore a black suit.

Before the ceremony, the two hoisted a large Proud Progressive flag as they posed for photos in the ceremonial stand of City Hall, prompting the duo of police chiefs to politely inform them of the regulation banning major signs. treat. But it’s already too late. Pictures were taken and love won the day. In Lockdown, a long distance romantic relationship grows stronger

Fry Electronics Team

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