How one couple overcame discrimination in act of love far from home

The New York Times - The Wedding Trip

They traveled to New York City to finally share their love publicly. Mykola "Kolya" Maslov and Taras Karasiichuk are from Kiev, Ukraine, where same-sex marriage is illegal and being gay is far from easy.

Taras and Kolya first met at a gay rights conference in the summer of 2014. Taras was instantly smitten, but Kolya wasn't quite as interested. After Taras wrote to Kolya incessantly for six months, he finally gave up and moved on.

But a chance encounter brought the two men back together, and would change their future profoundly. Taras explains that neither he nor Kolya had any intention of going to a club in Kiev the night they reunited, but a twist of fate led them to the same place. Upon meeting, "It was kind of an amazing, logical, life-changing and fateful change of events," said Kolya.

Their love progressed quickly, moving in together just two weeks later. Now, the two men work together for a gay rights group called Gay Alliance Ukraine. But being openly gay in Ukraine is still incredibly challenging, with right-wing groups attempting to make life for gays and lesbians a "kind of hell."

Taras and Kolya participated in the gay rights march in Kiev in early June with nearly 300 other people. The demonstration quickly grew violent when men with shaved heads surrounded the marchers, throwing homemade explosives and firing off bursts. Luckily, Taras and Kolya sought refuge in a nearby post office, and were able to escape the violence.

Later that month, Taras and Kolya participated in the New York pride parade with a group called RUSA LGBT. But the parade was just one highlight of their trip to New York -- the two men married at City Hall in Manhattan.

"If we are not married, then we're strangers to one another. This way we're an official social unit," Kolya said, expressing the significance of their marriage. Taras echoed his sentiments, and shared his excitement about marrying in New York: "It was very symbolic and important and just great that we could get married in such a wonderful city."

If you're interested in same-sex marriage legality overtime, see the graphic below:

See the original story from The New York Times.

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