THE MOLE: From Russia, with Love

Larisa Ivanova (l) and Anna Kolomytseva (photo courtesy)

Anna Kolomytseva, 37, and Larisa Ivanova, 43, were married at the Harris County Courthouse on June 17, 2022. The ceremony was simple, even though they couldn’t get married until later. of flying to Houston from Russia. just a month earlier. They had only three guests—their young daughter Eva, and Anna’s brother Sergei and his husband Tony.

And now, that’s all they need as they settle into their new home, and finally live freely as a married couple.

“We met in person on January 12, 2013—the first day since meeting on social media. Our first date was at a coffee shop in Moscow, and after that we went to see the movie that was released. Anna Karenina with Keira Knightley, followed by dinner at an Italian restaurant. Before meeting for the first time, we spent two weeks talking on the phone. It’s very special,” said Anna.

In Russia, LGBTQ couples are banned from getting married or in public. President Vladamir Putin’s government is notorious for targeting LGBTQ Russians and persecuting them with violence and imprisonment. Putin’s treatment of
LGBTQ citizens have been called human rights violations by many countries, including the US.

Larisa, Anna, and their daughter were granted humanitarian parole in the United States before they could apply for asylum. Since arriving in Houston, they moved in with Sergei and Tony in Montrose during their stay. After living together for nine years and having a child, marriage was at the top of their to-do list after arriving in America.

“It was amazing to hear the judge declare us as men. We know this will be the foundation of our new life in the United States. The ideas of equality, inclusion, and treated as something very special – something we have never seen in Russia,” said Larisa.

The irony of men’s enthusiasm for the freedoms they now enjoy in America may not be lost on Texans who live in a state where the Republican leadership has always made laws to dictate and discriminate against LGBTQ people. No form of discrimination or oppression is allowed, even if it is cruel or cruel, as it is in Russia, and even more humiliating and humiliating, as in Texas and other states. yes.

Anna was born in the city of Weimar, East Germany, where her father served with the Soviet army. He grew up in Borisov, Belarus, before attending Russian school in Kazan. Larisa was born and raised in the town of Borovichi, between Moscow and St. Petersburg. He went to university in Moscow. The women lived with their daughter in St. Petersburg before moving to Houston. They live in Montrose and are exploring Houston and all it has to offer.

Although they come from Russia, they point out that certain aspects of their lives are truly American—or just gay, the men laugh.

“After our first relationship, it was clear that we wanted to continue the relationship. We learned again the half funny, half serious information in the LGBTQ community in the US that lesbians jump first in the relationship in the head, and I think we are stereotypical lesbians in that regard, “laughs Larisa.

There were only two times in their relationship that they agreed to be very romantic. The marriage proposal was one, but for Larisa there was a second. “The most loving thing Anna did for me was when she showed me her beautiful pregnancy test,” she said.

“When we decided to have a child, we knew we were going from a couple to a couple building a family,” says Anna. “This is two years into our relationship. Back then, we didn’t equate marriage with building a family. We did not consider marriage as an option for us, because marriage was not (and still is) illegal in Russia.

Larisa proposed to Anna on their six year anniversary in January of 2019. “We just came back from visiting friends with our daughter Eva, who fell asleep during the bus ride. Larisa opened the ring and whispered—so as not to wake Eva—’Will you be my wife?’ It was a surprise to me, not because I doubted the depth of our love, but because marriage didn’t seem like a viable option for us.

What changed their minds about the possibility of marriage was the marriage of Anna’s brother Sergei to her husband, Tony, in May of 2018. They attended the wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and was very happy to see Sergei and Tony celebrated by. their friends and family. That and there they decided that marriage was really possible for them. Regardless of the political climate in the US, the freedoms afforded in America, even when under constant attack, can inspire people elsewhere who want their own freedoms.

Now that they are Houstonians, the couple has a lot to accomplish.

“Of course, right now we’re thinking about learning the language, building businesses, buying a home and, hopefully, having a second baby,” Larisa said. “These are big challenges, since we are only in the US for two months. But everything is easier knowing that we have responsibilities as a married couple.

This article appears in the August 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.