When high school senior Chelsea Blaney posted a photo to Tumblr last week celebrating her friends Dylan Meehan and Brad Taylor being named Carmel High School's cutest couple in the 2013 yearbook, she likely didn't anticipate the image being shared more than 100,000 times. But that's exactly what happened, and the two seniors from a suburban New York high school are now the Internet's latest collective crush.
Meehan, 18, and Taylor, 17, have been together for about a year and were the first same-sex couple in the school's history to be in the running for the official "cutest couple" designation, let alone win the contest. Carmel High's principal, Kevin Carroll, confirmed that Meehan and Taylor are the first same-sex couple to be deemed "cutest" in the school's history.
The couple, who are both active in theater, said they've endured some good-natured jabs from classmates who are teasing them — not about being gay, but for becoming a meme.
"Yeah, our friends are giving it to us about being Internet famous," Meehan told the New York Post.
Meehan and Taylor met through a mutual friend last June, then took a tour of Brown University together, reports the Star Gazette of Elmira, N.Y. A week later, they both came out to family and friends. On Monday, the couple fulfilled their "cutest couple" designation by attending their senior prom together, wearing tuxedos with coordinating blue and silver vests and ties, reports the Gazette.
Both seniors say Carmel High, located in Putnam County in New York's Hudson River Valley area, is a generally accepting place, where neither has been harassed for his sexual orientation. While they weren't especially surprised to be named cutest couple — friends had been promising them victory long before the votes were formally tallied — the couple told The Huffington Post they're overwhelmed by the sudden, worldwide attention.
"This whole thing has been a bit surreal for us because we have been raised to believe that love is love," said the couple in an emailed statement to HuffPost. "We never realized that our happiness and openness would inspire so many individuals. The support we have received from our family, friends, and even strangers has led us to believe that our affection for each other is normal ... When we started dating a year [ago], the thought of a photo of us traveling throughout the world would be a bit frightening, but now we are proud to be part of the LGBT community."