About five years ago, back when Tumblr was good, the microblogging site facilitated a very sweet connection between two users. One, a then-20-year-old named Nick, posted a picture from his family’s house, his hand outstretched showing off a wall covered in crosses. “But mom, how will other people know that you, a white Texan, are a Christian?,” Nick captioned the photo. “Same,” replied a young woman named Gaby, with a photo of her own mother’s wall of crosses.
That might have been all, but as the story slowly got reblogged and picked up steam, it gained another layer. A different Tumblr user suggested Nick and Gaby should date. “I’m gay,” Gaby explained. “Me too,” wrote Nick. We, Tumblr, collectively screamed, STAN!!!!
It was a very good plot twist. And one that also might have been the end of the story … but this year Nick and Gaby met up for the first time at a Pride event in Houston, Texas. You might call it the most ambitious gay crossover event in history. Intelligencer caught up with the duo to discuss their unlikely friendship and growing up gay in Texas.
So tell me about the initial reaction to the Tumblr post from five years ago? What was it like going viral? Did that happen fast?
Nick: Oh gosh, I don’t remember how long after I posted that she replied, but overall the initial reaction was good, people from the south were reblogging it and laughing because we’ve all either had the wall or knew someone who did. When I started seeing the post on other social media platforms that’s actually when I decided I should come out to my family. My cousin found my Tumblr from the post.
Gaby: The post was funny to me because I knew dozens of people with the same wall. I added my picture and didn’t think anything of it. Basically overnight the post blew up, I think because it was reblogged by Tyler Oakley. My initial reaction was “oh shit” because I wasn’t out to my family yet and I was worried that people would recognize me in the photo. That was in 2015 when I was in college. Nobody knew I was gay except for a few close friends. I came out on New Years 2018 to my family.
Nick: I’ve definitely been fortunate with my family, not everyone gets the support they deserve and it really brought me closer together with my oldest sister and mom.
Gaby: At first, the aftermath of coming out to my family was really hard. We have been through a lot, (they cut me off from finances while I’m trying to get through school). I was going to come out of school with no loans, but now I will be in $120,000 of debt. It’s not about the money for me though. The hardest part was knowing that they do not support me and my lifestyle and choices.
Gaby, I’m really sorry to hear that your family hasn’t been as affirming and accepting. That’s terrible.
Gaby: In the last one to two months, my parents have made great strides at becoming more accepting. My mom said, “I think I am ready to meet your girlfriend” and I was like “ummmm no.” I let dad meet her. It went GREAT. Mom wears the religious pants in the family. I’m still a practicing Catholic.
I am really glad to hear that. So you were both at a Pride together this year. Tell me about it!
Nick: We lost contact after Gaby deleted her Tumblr but she reached put to me last September on IG and we had been trying to meet up but our schedules never clicked till Pride.
Gaby: [I deleted my Tumblr because] people were asking for nude pictures and I got tired of seeing random porn GIFs all the time. The whole thing felt dirty to me, I went through kind of a spiritual cleansing.
This was your first Pride, right?
Gaby: Yes. I didn’t want to go when I was closeted because I thought somebody would see me. It was awesome!! It was cool to see how much support there is in the community.
Nick: My first was in 2016. I go to both Houston and Galveston Pride every year.
Gaby: At Pride I just had the mentality like … we [Nick and I] are meeting. No exceptions.
Nick: Pride was amazing! It was very hot but very fun! I think the heat index was at 105 or so.
Gaby: I would have sold my soul for a water bottle.
Nick: I don’t think I even drank a bottle of water that whole day lol.
When you two met up and took the picture did anybody recognize you? Gaby: Just people from high school recognized me. Nobody from Tumblr. I was recognized at a grocery store once in 2015 when the original thread was going viral.
Nick: I’ve only really been recognized a handful of times, I feel very Clark Kent because I actually wear glasses most days.
So what was the best part of Pride this year?
Nick: The overwhelming feeling of acceptance and love and Plastique Tiara performing was a plus, too!
Gaby: I really liked the way the event allowed me to be my authentic self in public. It was nice to be able to hold hands with my girlfriend and not be scared of judgement. In Texas you never know whether it will be accepted or not.
This whole saga is so wholesome so I think we should end on a wholesome note. What would you say to a closeted person lurking on
Nick: Coming out is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do and even if you think your family will accept you, it is still terrifying. Only come out when you feel safe and you’re ready to do it.
Gaby: It just feels good to be yourself and to know that the people who stick around really love you for you. It eliminates a lot of the fake people in your life. It’s truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I experienced some losses because of it. But it’s been totally worth it because now I know that I would have never experienced true happiness if I continued to be the watered-down version of myself who was trying to get everyone to like me.