It was a match made in pictures, literally. Olympic skater Blake Skjellerup and designer Saul Carrasco flirted via dueling Instagram posts and “likes” for nearly six months before arranging their first date in New York City, where they both lived. Fireworks ensued. Let’s just say this is where the movie fades to black…
Fast forward a year and hundreds of Instagram posts later, and the two are about to tie the proverbial knot.
In honor of marriage equality, Queerty caught up with Blake for an exclusive conversation on the eve of his Hawaii beach wedding.
How did you and Saul meet?
We met, or more of came to know of each other, through Instagram. Neither of us is sure who found who first, or who “liked” multiple photos in succession first to garner the others’ attention. After following each other for almost six months I posted a picture on Instagram about being on my way to Los Angeles, and Saul commented “Next stop NYC?”
I responded, saying “Not quite, but soon I hope.” Saul followed up with a “Keep me posted” and four months later I found myself in NYC filming the documentary To Russia With Love, and reached out to Saul to grab a drink and dinner. He accepted the invitation and the rest is history.
Tell us about the how the engagement and decision to get married?
We escaped NYC for a weekend out to Mattatuck in Long Island for some R & R, after a perfect day visiting wineries and exploring the area we were laying on the beach talking life, love, the future, and we decided that marriage was in our near future.
Was the timing influenced by the Supreme Court’s decision about marriage equality?
No, I can’t say it was. We live in New York where Marriage Equality has existed for some time now, and I am from New Zealand where marriage equality passed into law back in 2013. Getting married is important to us, and we are very grateful to those that have fought so hard for us to have the freedom.
How did you select the location?
We choose Hawaii for its central location between New Zealand and the east coast of the U.S. It’s a 10-hour flight for most of our guests, and plus it is Hawaii. We wanted to create a week of fun vacation for our friends and family while celebrating our wedding, and Oahu is the perfect place to do that.
What kind of wedding will it be?
Our ceremony is about us, tying in who we are, and how we want to celebrate coming together in marriage. Our best friends respectively are our “best people” and also our celebrants. We did not want to be married by a stranger and we choose people who know us, love us, and have been our biggest supporters, to deliver our nuptials.
What will you guys wear?
Well, being one of the hottest days in Hawaii, our attire will definitely be a less uptight, more upscale beach feel. We won’t be wearing Hawaiian shirts and hula skirts, unfortunately, but we will be wearing some casual linen suits that will be great for the beachside location. Our friends from The Tie Bar sent us the perfect Hawaiian inspired floral ties that are super cool so we’ll definitely be wearing those.
Let’s talk about politics for a moment. Will marriage equality and seeing athletes in same sex partnerships help lessen homophobia?
With each person coming out the visibility of LGBT people in communities grows. Homophobia may never be eliminated, but through education and visibility it can most definitely be minimized. I do believe that being open and visible helps in highlighting the normality of everyday life of being LGBT and in a same-sex relationship. Thinking about the journey it took me to get where I am now, and the minds and hearts I opened with my coming out, I can attest that being out changes hearts and minds, and creates an environment for more people to follow.
In a Queerty survey, thirty percent of our readers said “monogamy” is not intrinsic to marriage. That in fact, non-monogamy can keep marriages going.
For us monogamy is important, it creates trust, strengthens our love, passion and life together. Knowing that the only person we want is each other is attractive and exciting, and we definitely use that to our advantage in our life together. Every relationship however is different, and each to their own. It is all about what is important to you, and being fair and honest to who you are and what you want out of life, love and a relationship.
Readers also said they were surprised by the pace of marriage equality politically. Huge majorities of Americans now support it. As a kid, did you imagine it would happen so soon in your life?
Definitely not! It is actually very hard to think back to almost 15 years ago when I started to understand who I was, and grow into my sexuality, while realizing at the time I was identifying with a minority that was not equal and fairly treated in society. Over the course of those years so much has changed, and now is definitely the time for this argument, conversation, whatever you want, to call it to an end. I always imagined getting married, I never let go of that. Law or not, I was not going to let someone tell me what I was a less of a person because of who I chose to love.
The millennial generation is leading the charge. Can you provide a sense of why our friends, especially non-gay ones, have become such staunch advocates of marriage freedom?
Being out and open is what has driven the charge. You can not advocate or create change by hiding or shying away from the issue. Today people are coming out everywhere, and coming out younger. Growing up in the ’90s and early 2000s there was a culture shift in the way gay people were represented. For us, we were both huge fans of Will & Grace, and being young and closeted that show helped with the burden of feeling alone, but also the future prospect of one day being a thriving successful gay man living the life in New York City.
Tell us about your honeymoon.
Hawaii itself is part wedding, part honeymoon. We’ll be there for a total of nine days so we’ll be just about ready to come home. We also have a trip to Sydney in September and will be treating ourselves to some fun adventures while we are there.
Finally, setting back into your daily lives, will life be different?
We do not think anything will be too different, besides being able to call each other husband, and say that we are married. We love each other more than anything, and being married is our commitment to that. If there is anything that is different we can prepare to settle down, get a dog, or maybe just a goldfish, and start to plan the rest of our lives together. We also just signed a lease for a new apartment here in NYC which starts the weekend before we head off to Hawaii, so we’ll have a fresh start the second we step into our new place. Hopefully the packing will already be done before we get back!
Are there kids in your future?
For sure, we both want children. Starting a family and having children is important to us, and we can not wait to send off our little Carrasco-Skjellerup to the first day of school.”