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When Nicholas Cardello and Kurt English started dating 25 years ago, they didn’t know their relationship would become a symbol of hope for the entire LGBTQ community. This past June 11, after going to the Equality March in Washington, D.C., Cardello posted a photo collage to Facebook that has since been shared more than 24,000 times on Facebook and 160,000 times on Twitter.


In the photo, you can see Cardello and English recreating an adorable shot from the 1993 March on Washington, in which Cardello plants a kiss on English’s cheek. While the gesture might seem no different from any other couple showing affection for one another, Cardello told BuzzFeed News he’s usually hesitant to post photos like it to social media. “A lot of people get kind of sensitive to seeing images of gay men kissing,” Cardello told BuzzFeed.

But for the 2017 march, Cardello realized it was “important for people to see that image,” leading him and his now-husband to recreate the affectionate scene from 24 years before. “It’s who we are,” he said.

When Twitter user @tagyourheathen shared the side-by-side photos with the sarcastic caption, “it’s just a phase,” other users pounced on it, reacting with messages of support, appreciation, and recognition.

As one person tweeted in response, “This is so necessary. For young gays to see old gays happy, in love, and proud. Thank you for giving me a bit of hope for the future.” (Though, as another user was quick to point out, it should be “older gays,” not “old.”)

Here’s how others reacted to the adorable photos.

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