As part of our Family Friday series, every week we spotlight one family, share the story of their love and send lots of love and support to them from our own huge family all over the world.
Since we've launched our Family Friday series, we've gotten so many beautiful submissions from you and we've been genuinely touched by your stories. Your families are beautiful. Thank you.
This young couple really inspired us this week. Their love spans borders and is putting them in the fight of their lives. We're so happy to be able to share their story with you. You can also see a fun video of them at the top of the page.
Meet Daniel and Yohandel.
How did you and your partner meet?
Yohandel and I met while I was vacationing in Miami from Monterrey, Mexico. Our journey started the moment I walked into a local bar in Miami Beach on a quiet Tuesday night. My eyes locked with his and we couldn’t help but stare at each other.
The only way we can best describe it is that it was love at first sight.
When did you know that you loved each other?
Two days after we met I took a flight back to Monterrey and we kept on talking as if distance didn't matter. We started to plan our next encounter and only a couple of weeks later we made our first trip together by deciding to go on a cruise. This time together made us realize what we were experiencing was true love. We spent our days and night talking about our dreams and before we knew it we realized we could not be apart.
Tell us about your wedding. What state did you get married in? Did you have to leave the your residential state to do so?
I proposed to Yohandel on New Year's Eve 2011. Living in Florida, a state that has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, we had to search for a state where we could marry. After weighing our options, we decided that getting married in our nation’s capital was the best choice. We timed our wedding so that we could be sure to marry before Daniel’s visa expired. We knew that we may not get another chance. If Daniel returned to Mexico, after having made so many lengthy visits to the United States in the preceding year, there was a very strong possibility that he would not be allowed to enter the country again. Our ceremony took place in front of the Capitol Building, an important symbol to us because it is where Congress passed the law that is denying the federal recognition of our marriage.
Has your family embraced your husband?
Both our families have embraced our marriage in ways we never imagined. My mother was able to come visit me for Thanksgiving last year and we spent this special day together with my new family. Yohandel's parents and brother welcomed my mother and reassured us of their commitment in supporting our fight for equality. Thanks to modern technology our families visually communicate regularly online making the distance seem a little shorter and the yearning to be together a bit more bearable.
Tell us about your fight for gay marriage and how being binational has affected your rights.
It goes without saying that my decision to marry Yohandel was the hardest decision I have ever made. No one should have to decide between leaving their family behind to marry the person they love. Our daily life is filled with love and admiration for one another but it is also filled with the uncertainty that my status brings. Not knowing when I will be able to visit my family, be able to work and grow professionally, even drive a car without the fear of being taken to jail is something that at times becomes stressful. We should be living the best years of our lives and we should be able to plan our future like so many newlyweds get to do everyday in our country. We have learned to find comfort in standing up for what we believe because we know in the end love and truth prevail.
What words of encouragement do you have for other binational gay couples who are facing the same struggles
The most important advice we can give other binational couples is to stand up and be heard. Fight for your rights and live your life openly. It is only by showing others that we are the same that we can change peoples perceptions and establish a new more inclusive society where fear and discrimination no longer exist. All humans believe in love and when we show people that our love is no different than their love... we open hearts and change minds.
You can see a few photos of Daniel and Yohandel below. To see more families and learn how to share your own, scroll to the bottom.
REMINDER: If you'd like your own family featured on a Family Friday, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember that family is what we make it, so if your family is you and the pack of LGBT folks who you'd go to the mats for, send them over. We want to see them, too.