Michael and Matt met via Youtube in 2013. They describe themselves as “two travel obsessed husbands from Portland, Oregon.”
Matt posted a coming out video and a year later, Michael posted a response. Michael was living in Nebraska or “the dead centre of the US,” as he called it. He flew to Seattle to meet Matt for the first time.
After four years in Nebraska, they moved to Portland. As Matt says “We went from zero to a hundred really fast. Our first impression of each other was our coming out story. We were in pretty similar situations. Both of us had religious backgrounds growing up. Michael was about to attend dental school and I was about to apply to medical school.”
Matt had already built up a presence on Youtube, but Michael was concerned about becoming too visible on social media before entering the professional world. Will people not hire you if they see something they don’t like? He’s since realised that social media is not going to hold you back in your professional life: “Unless you’re only doing Only Fans!”
What coming out advice would they give to people from more conservative backgrounds? “Safety is the number one priority. So if it’s not safe to come out, protect yourself. It’s important to realise that outside your bubble you can be accepted. You can find hope online too. You can find other people in similar circumstances, sharing stories and having the chance to be open.”
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How do you find success on social media?
They’ve built up quite a following online. Is there a formula? “There’s got to be some method to the madness. This is connected to the last question. How do you find a community when you feel you can’t come out?” For Matt that took place in high school: “I was fifteen, Youtube was new and there wasn’t much buzz about it. I was looking for a way to do videos for Myspace. I saw people doing video blogs and went down the rabbit hole. I found people like me who were doing it and a lot of them were closeted too. I made deep connections early on. Those blossomed. I see people like Tyler Oakley doing great things. We’ve been doing Youtube for years and years.”
They also moved onto Instagram and Tiktok as the new platforms emerged. “If you’re not posting content regularly, you won’t grow. Also, people are interested in seeing a gay couple living their lives. That’s an audience we tapped into. You could go for fashion or travel, etc. Once you’ve found that niche you also have to find joy in it. If you don’t it’s not easy to get people to go on that journey with you. The internet is a test of authenticity too. If you post something people can see through it. Is this person being authentic or is this clickbait?”
Matt avoids Clubhouse and Snapchat as he doesn’t particularly like using them. This is certainly key if you’re looking to launch yourself on social media: find a platform you like and stay authentic. Don’t dance around on Tiktok unless you actually want to. You can’t fake it till you make it on social.
“I’ve always used the internet to vent, to process thoughts and bounce ideas off other people. That’s where I get my inspiration. I have all these thoughts and I have to put them out or I’m going to explode.”
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Overnight hiking in Chiang Mai
Travel has played a big part in both Michael and Matt’s lives. Matt’s travels taught him many things, not least to love Portland, his home town. Before he travelled he thought it was the most boring place in the world. Seeing the world allowed him to see the true value of it. While many Americans don’t have passports, the number is far higher among LGBT+ Americans.
They had their gay honeymoon in Thailand. “We went in June – it’s very hot in Thailand in June! I love getting off the plane and feeling like I’m in a different world.” They had travelled around Europe and South America before the honeymoon, but Thailand was something different.
Matt booked most of the trip and Michael discovered, somewhat to his horror, that an overnight hike in Chiang Mai would be taking place. It was a small tour led by a local. June is the rainy season so it poured down all night. They got in a tiny truck and drove for a few hours. They had five minutes in a market to buy supplies. The hike began in a rice paddy field. They had one umbrella between them and used a rubbish bag as a poncho. They had to fight off leaches over a seven-hour hike. At the top of a hill, they were greeted with what would have been a great view, but there was only fog so they couldn’t see anything.
Although the hike was a fairly wild experience, on reflection they consider it to be a success. It’s a story you won’t forget, at least. Travelling as a couple you have to make compromises – even seven-hour hikes at night.
Bucket list destinations
Perhaps the most surprising destination they fell for is Scotland. Aside from Matt’s food poisoning experience on his first trip (grilled monkfish!), they’ve greatly enjoyed the northernmost part of Britain. Scotland “was like a page ripped out of a fairytale book.”
Their favorite yearly destination is Puerto Vallarta. There’s a direct flight from Portland so it’s easy to access. It also has a huge gay scene and it’s more authentically Mexican than many other touristy spots – such as Cancun. You can go on boat tours, explore the food scene and even take an excursion into the jungle.
They recently visited New Orleans and have some recommendations. Bourbon St can get pretty hectic but there’s loads to see in Downtown. You can also try a bike tour and discover the history of New Orleans: home of voodoo, jazz and Mardi Gras. Lastly we asked where they want to go next.