As they prepare for their beach-side wedding, Olympic speedskater Blake Skjellerup and lifestyle blogger Saul Carrasco open up about their modern romance story. What first began as an unassuming online exchange, quickly turned into an offline tour of New York City, and will soon evolve into a tropical wedding this summer. It can't be denied: Blake and Saul's connection was unstoppable from the start.
Out: How long have you two been together?
Saul Carrasco: A little over a year.
And how'd you guys first meet?
Blake Skjellerup: We first met when I was visiting New York City. Saul and I had been talking on Instagram and I reached out and asked him if he'd like to go to dinner and show me around the city. We went for dinner and we hit it off. Afterwards we kept in touch and ended up meeting each other again in Las Vegas a few weeks later. We decided then that we'd like to be in a relationship. I moved to New York, and that's sort of where we are now.
I love that this all started with Instagram -- it's so of this time. Where was that first date spot and have you returned since?
SC: We went to Cafeteria. I wanted to show him a popular, New York staple. We haven't been back yet. But we're going to go back for anniversaries.
BS: Well, we've been back once! Saul introduced me to chicken and waffles, which I've never had before. Now it's sort of our thing.
SC: I'm originally from Texas, so I had to force him to have Texan food. Now we have the longest list of all these chicken and waffle places to try.
What were your first impressions once you met in person?
SC: Knowing who Blake was through Instagram, for some reason I thought he'd be loud and outspoken, but he's actually really quiet. He likes to listen. It works out for us though. I'm the more outspoken one.
BS: Yeah, he is American after all! (laughs) I thought he was a lot better looking in real life. That was the first thing. I thought he'd be quite short...
SC: But I'm actually taller than him.
Was it love at first site?
BS: It was pretty close to it.
SC: Everything clicked.
And obviously you two have very demanding professional lives. What's your approach in striking the right balance between work and spending time together?
BS: We try to travel as much together. We like to share the experience. If we can both experience what the other one is doing, that's what we like the most.
Where was the last place you traveled together?
BS: We met my family in New Zealand, then Australia, and spent a week in Hawaii to scout locations for our wedding in July.
So the wedding's in Hawaii? Amazing. Do you have any family there?
SC: It's a half-way point for our families. We want it to be less of a stuffy wedding and more of a vacation for everyone.
Will you stay there for your honeymoon?
BS: We haven't planned that far yet. We're going to be there for nine days already as is. Hopefully the wedding isn't too stressful, so it can be a holiday for us as well.
Will it take place on the beach?
BS: Yes, by the water.
To backtrack a little bit, who proposed to who?
BS: I started the conversation.
SC: We had been drinking wine and it kind of came up and we agreed that we should do it.
So it was pretty mutual?
I think as same-sex marriage becomes more legally accepted throughout the country, a lot of same-sex couples are trying to navigate exactly what an engagement and wedding will look like. Not to say there is one specific model, but it's a relatively new rite of passage. Did you guys exchange some sort of ring or token?
BS: We got engagement rings. Something simple. It was more for us, to connect us.
How do you feel identifying as a same-sex couple in the middle of the fight for marriage equality?
BS: It's exciting. It's fun. The one story that's really funny for us is that we have a bodega just across the street and we go there at least two or three times a week. We generally go together and they know our order. But from time to time we'll go in there by ourselves. I went in there by myself and this young kid, 15 or 16, said, "Hey! You're always in here. That guy is your brother, right?" I didn't know what to say. Do I say no, he's not my brother? I didn't know what to do. Then the guy behind the counter said, "No, they're not brothers." Then the kid was like, "Oh, okay."
SC: But the kid knew what the guy behind the counter was talking about, and he wasn't offended or scared. He just said, "Gotchya." When I was 15 years old, I wouldn't have known how to react. I think so much has changed.
That's a pretty powerful, microcosm example of a larger change, as you say. And I love that it took place at a bodega, a location all New Yorkers know well.
SC: Yes. And I hope in ten years marriage equality won't even be a topic of debate. Just like how that kid acted.
BS: I hope people eventually understand that it's just something as simple as love. Two men can love each other in exactly the same way as anyone else.