Nicholas Cardello and Kurt English didn't set out to shatter a common misconception about same-gender relationships, but that's exactly what they did — with something as simple as a photograph.
Or, to be more accurate, two photographs side-by-side.
Since he posted the photo — which is ridiculously cute, in our opinion — it has been shared more than 24,000 times. But Facebook isn't the only place this photo has spread.
Although Cardello posted the photo with the simple caption that it was "Nick & Kurt - LGBT March on Washington 1993 & 2017," those who have shared it on social media have added their own (totally accurate and snarky) commentary.
That simple phrase adds so much meaning to this image, especially for LGBTQ people who have heard this phrase countless times.
Clearly, sexuality is not "just a phase," given that these photos were taken 24 years apart and Cardello and English are still very much in love.
Cardello and English met in 1992 and have been a couple ever since, Cardello says in a statement he shared with Refinery29.
At the time when the first photo was taken, Cardello was 30 and English was 28. Now, they're 54 and 52 — and yes, they are married.
In fact, they promised to spend their lives together the same year that first photo was taken, in a commitment ceremony they held in their home. Fifteen years later, they were able to legally marry in Massachusetts, and then they married again when same-gender marriage was made legal in their home state of Florida in 2015.
They never expected the photo to resonate with so many people.
"The general reaction has been amazing," Cardello says. "There have been so many supportive comments on the post, such as: "Relationship Goals", "wow they have been together longer than I have been alive", "Look how old they got" (which I laughed at, because we were 30 years old in the first photo and 54 in the second, and we were thinking yes you too will get old!)."
What makes this photo amazing isn't the fact that they're old (they aren't that old guys...), it's that images like this are so rare for the LGBTQ community. Cardello and English have been unofficially married for 24 years, which is probably about as long as or less than the parents of any millennial whose parents are still together.
Yet, if we put photos of millennial parents in their 30 and their 50s side-by-side it likely wouldn't be as revolutionary as this photo seems to be because we're used to seeing straight couples stay together for decades.
"The youth needs to see that it is possible to find loving partner and that the relationship can last," Cardello says.
Part of the reason we don't see photos like this may just be that couples don't feel comfortable sharing them publicly. Cardello and English weren't open with photos of themselves kissing or holding hands until recently.
"These were things we kept off of social media because it can make some people feel uncomfortable," Cardello says. But they realized that the world needs photos like this.
"I realized that this was just another closet we had to come out of," he says. "People need to see same sex couples just being couples."
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