Becky and Shireen Moshiri met for the first time at a rugby party in 2004.
“I was intimidated by her; that’s why I liked her,” Becky said.
After connecting on Myspace and Facebook in 2011, the two exchanged phone numbers and began dating. Becky said their relationship has always proven opposites attract.
One question Becky asked Shireen when they started dating was, ‘What’s something you wouldn’t want in a person you’re dating?’
“A republican Catholic,” Shireen said.
At the time, Becky considered herself both.
Becky and Shireen are not actively involved in Lincoln’s LGBTQ+ community. They both grew up in Nebraska and said the community is small and limited due to its opposition.
“Here there’s still a lot of fear and discomfort with people that are LGBT,” Shireen said. “There’s not a lot of visibility.”
Although the Moshiris said Lincoln’s LGBTQ+ community’s current reach is too narrow and caters to one specific group of LGBTQ+ people, they do not wish to participate in its expansion.
“I don’t think we have any desire to change anything in Nebraska. I think we know the community that we grew up in,” Becky said.
In 2013, Becky and Shireen Morishi traveled to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to get married because same sex marrige was not yet legally regonzied in Nebraska. Many members of their families did not attend the wedding.
Becky is 42 years old and grew up in Crete. She said her father struggles to recognize her relationship.
“My dad still refers to her [Shireen] as my friend. He doesn’t even know her name half the time,” Becky said. “My family is very conservative. And there are three of us that are gay.”
Shireen, 38, grew up in Lincoln. Some of her family has grown to be supportive of her marriage over time, like her 95-year-old father who worked as a judge in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death.
Shireen talked about the importance of being comfortable with the disapproval of others.
“As somebody in the LGBT community, I think it’s important to not just expect other people to accept you for your differences, and be OK with that, and you have to be able to extend that courtesy,” she said.
The Moshiris said they are constantly aware of the image they present to the public, specifically in Nebraska, because they said many people are not supportive.
“If I were to get shot in my neighborhood because I’m gay, I don’t think any of my neighbors except for that one right there [points] would do anything about it,” Becky said.
Becky and Shireen said one reason they don’t associate themselves with the local LGBTQ+ community is because it is too heavily intertwined with alcohol.
They would like to see more businesses that are centrally marketed towards LGBTQ+ identifying people.
“I don’t think that there are a lot of options for people to feel like they can go out and connect with others, other than going to the bar,” Shireen said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of options to be genuinely who you are here.”
Becky said she has already fought her battles.
“I watched friends of mine commit suicide; it was a really hard time. I remember when AIDs happened, everybody hated gay people, and I think when you experience that first hand, it kind of just makes you detached. And so learning just to deal with that fight was a big enough fight for me as a person,” Becky said.
Shireen said it’s time for her to pass the baton on and motivate all young Nebraskans to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
“My job is not necessarily to be doing protests and picketing places, but to get people to see what they can do, and what they can have a say in,” Shireen said.
She said that while her generation recognized LGBTQ+ rights as an issue, many felt they themselves couldn’t make a difference growing up.
“I feel like my age group was where I started to see a lot of apathy. It’s too big of a problem; what can I do? But really it does matter because now I’m living in a world that my parents created,” Shireen said.
The Moshiris said the future of the LGBTQ+ population in Nebraska relies on the 18-22 year old age demographic because it contains the largest number of voters since the baby boomers. They both said this group holds the potential to create a society that is more accepting and inclusive.