Filmmaker, model and YouTube personality Max Emerson attended the West Point Military Academy’s army prom on the arm of his boyfriend, Andrés Camilo Hernandez, and photos of the couple’s night out are almost too adorable for words.
Emerson and Hernandez, who is in the National Guard, shared snapshots of each other suited up for the festivities on their respective Instagram accounts April 1 and 2.
Emerson also shared a cheeky shot of himself wearing only a pair of Calvin Klein briefs as he got ready for the event.
The photos quickly went viral after being featured on Yahoo Style, Elite Daily, The Washington Blade and other media outlets. Emerson’s most popular image from the night had received over 36,000 likes on Instagram as of Friday afternoon.
Many of the reports have touted the images as a comforting sign of LGBTQ inclusion in the military nearly six years after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” According to Emerson, the attention that the photos have received has been particularly significant for Hernandez, who opened up about his sexuality for the first time publicly last year in a YouTube video shot by his boyfriend. (Check out that clip below.)
“Andrés was pretty concerned about coming out last year, and to see how many people are being inspired by his story is really encouraging,” Emerson told The Huffington Post.
While there has been some backlash to the photos on social media, he and Hernandez have come to view it as a reminder of how “incredibly important visibility is,” noting, “I think the haters already know they’re on the losing side of history. That’s why they’re getting more and more desperate.”
The 28-year-old, who boasts over 115,000 YouTube subscribers and 688,000 followers on Instagram, would like his projects to “tell socially conscious stories.” As to what he’d tell young LGBTQ people who may be struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, Emerson said, “Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Be patient, because it gets better.”
CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to specify Emerson’s boyfriend’s full name, Andrés Camilo Hernandez.
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