2024 started with a bang.
CNN’s New Year’s Eve telecast featured a gay, interracial couple kissing during the official countdown to 2024. While many viewers were thrilled to see an LGBTQ+ couple getting highlighted on this NYE special, there was also some backlash to featuring this moment of queer love as people from all over the world were watching the telecast.
The gay couple seen on TV, Jake Eriksson and Corin Christian, filmed their first-ever on-screen interview exclusively with Out. During our conversation, Eriksson and Christian share more personal details about themselves, reveal how they met, and reflect on the response they’ve gotten to their now-iconic New Year’s Eve kiss on CNN.
“I have a TikTok presence, so I woke up the next day and I’m like, ‘Jake, my phone is blowing up.’ I was so confused as to what was going on,” Christian says. “I’m going through (my phone), scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I see the things on CNN. And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy.’ We were literally the first thing that people saw in 2024.”
Eriksson chimes in, “It was a little sad to see some of the negative comments and how negatively (people) were affected by that, being forced to see two men kissing on live TV. It was a little sad to see that.” Overall, though, Eriksson believes that people are just scared of things they don’t know, can’t understand, or feel insecure about. “I lived in fear for so long,” he adds. “I lived in shame, and I thought something was wrong with me. I thought I was going to hell, and I’m just not willing to live like that anymore. I’m happier when I treat people with love and kindness, regardless of how they identify and who they love.”
Christian adds, “For me, it’s sad seeing the comments that I was getting. I’ve seen all the Reddit comments and I’m like, ‘People are really scared to open up to their families and parents because of what we did on live TV.’ And it’s just shocking to see that people are really devastated and scared to come out to their families.” At the end of the day, though, both Eriksson and Christian want to preach a message that encourages people to be themselves and do the best that they can.
The irony is not lost that so many viewers had a negative reaction to watching a kiss between two gay men on a New Year’s Eve telecast on CNN hosted by two out gay men: Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. Besides, Cooper and Cohen are longtime friends, parents to young children, and highly successful in their respective careers.
Thankfully, there was also a wave of positive reactions in response to Christian and Eriksson’s NYE kiss. “We’re just so amazed by the support,” Christian says. “At the end of the day, we’re still supported, and the positive outweighs the negative.”
Originally from Utah, Eriksson moved to New York City in recent years to pursue his career in acting. In turn, Christian, a Charlotte, North Carolina, native who moved to New York City six years ago as a model, works in creative development for nightlife events, lounges, and clubs.
As a couple, Eriksson and Christian met on Bumble around six months ago.
“We were iffy about each other at first. We were like, ‘Hmm, we’re kind of polar opposites. I’m a fashion kid, he’s an actor,’” Christian explains. “After the third date, we were super into each other. We said, ‘This is it. I don’t want anyone else.’ It’s hard to date in New York City as a gay couple.”
Eriksson adds, “When I saw Corin’s profile on Bumble, one of his pictures was a campaign that Abercrombie & Fitch did. It was a picture that I had seen years before in a shopping mall. I just remember seeing it and being like, ‘No way. I’ve seen him before.’ It was just crazy.”
Upon meeting each other, Eriksson noted that Christian “was very talky when I first met him. I was like, ‘There’s no way this is going to work.’ But it turns out he’s just a big teddy bear.”
This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.