CNN gay kiss couple respond to homophobic backlash: ‘We can choose how we treat others’

The gay couple who went viral after CNN aired them kissing at the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City, hope they have inspired “youth to always be themselves”, following homophobic backlash to the cute TV moment.

As the clock struck midnight on the East Coast, cameras captured Jake Eriksson and Corin Christian sharing a smooch among the crowd gathered in Times Square to welcome in 2024.  

The pair’s kiss was beamed across the nation via major channels such as CNN, ABC News and CBS, and quickly spread on social media, with pictures of it being shared millions of times. 

LGBTQ+ folks were ecstatic to see the New Year start off with some unadulterated queer love and joy, but bigots, of course, were outraged that two men kissing was shown on live television. 

Some anti-LGBTQ+ trolls even went so far as to claim the moment was scripted and a “psychological operation which was designed to intrude on Middle America”. 

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews, the couple described the moment of the kiss as “amazing” and they hope the attention it gained will have a positive impact for the whole community.  

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CNN aired a gay kiss on New Year's Eve to bring in 2024
US TV networks aired a kiss between two men in New York’s Times Square as 2024 arrived. (CNN)

Eriksson, an actor, said: “I had the amazing opportunity to share a New Year’s kiss with my partner in front of the whole world. We appreciate the positive feedback we received and hope that our experience can inspire youth to always be themselves.” 

“Hate and anger are secondary emotions”, so he doesn’t let them affect him, he added. 

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand. If people feel hatred toward homosexuality, it is not necessarily their own fault. We don’t get to choose how we are raised but we can choose how we treat others and hope to educate future generations.” 

Christian, a model and entrepreneur from Charlotte, in North Carolina, was also unfazed by the negativity after their NYE kiss, saying “all publicity is good publicity”. 

He added: “At the end of the day, me and my partner are happy and in love, no matter where the backlash comes from.”

“Be who you are for your pride and know that you are not alone,” he said. “To all the couples out there reading this, love your partner with everything you have because there’s nothing better than having comfort to fall back on when you need it.”

He also noted if this is a chance to be able to “change the public eye on LGBTQIA+” then “so be it”. 

The couple rang in the new year in style at New York’s famous ball drop. (Corin Christian on Instagram)

Eriksson, who is bisexual, told of how he grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was “ashamed” of his sexuality for many years. 

“I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with my feelings of confusion and impending doom. After years of suffering, and two suicide attempts, I got sober and decided that I would no longer live my life in fear, and decided to pursue my dream of becoming an actor,” he said. 

He described having an “amazing family” with parents who supported him “every step of the way with unconditional love”, adding: “I am very proud to be me today.”

Christian said he came out when he was 14 and saw it as “one of the best moments of my life”, even though “my mother raised me non-denominational”. 

And he had a message for other parents: “It’s OK to love your child unconditionally whether you understand it or not. There is nothing in the world worse than living your life in fear every day.”