A gay couple's late-night encounter with Jersey Shore 'drunk bros' is a snapshot of the messy march toward social progress.

Seaside Heights is a town on the Jersey Shore: a place synonymous with Snookie, The Situation, and a heaping helping of fist-pumping.

So you probably wouldn't be judged for thinking it's not a place of overwhelming inclusivity. In this case, though, you'd be wrong.

Let's set the scene: It's a spring night during prom season and deliriously happy high schoolers are sauntering down the boardwalk on their way home from a night they'll never forget.


As couple after couple passes by one particular rooftop bar, some bros overlooking the scene are screaming at couples to kiss. And then there's a pause.

Walking down the street is a gay couple in matching tuxedos (adorable). They're holding hands (adorable).

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But here's the thing — as openly gay "Good Morning America" producer Mike Del Moro noted on Twitter (where he live-tweeted this occurrence), they're doing it in a town "where — not so long ago — young men would shout the word 'f****t' out their car window as we'd stroll along the boardwalk."

Del Moro, who was on the boardwalk with his mother and boyfriend, was instinctively nervous for the couple.

That makes total sense. Even in an ultra-liberal center like San Francisco, I've been harassed for holding hands with my husband. So in a place like Seaside Heights, Del Moro definitely had cause for concern.

What happened next, though, was a heartwarming step in the direction of progress.

Let's let Del Moro's tweets do the talking:

Del Moro makes it clear this occurrence doesn't mean that "everything's fine."

It's just one instance. But it is movement. And, as Del Moro notes, "it's an encouraging moment for young LGBTQ folks out there."

For the teens at the center of the story, the moment was worth every second.

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You know how the internet works, so it won't surprise you that the happy couple was immediately found, identified, and lauded for being out in a place where being authentically yourself can become dangerous.

They're Theodore Vidal and Colin Beyers, boyfriends who couldn't be more happy that things are changing in their town.

Speaking to BuzzFeed, Vidal, who revealed that he had been bullied after he first came out, said their encounter with the strangers on the rooftop was completely unexpected. "It was so surprising that these guys were supporting us," Vidal said. "Especially after what I've gone through."

"It's an area where you normally would get discriminated against and the fact that those guys cheered us on was shocking," Beyers told BuzzFeed. "It's one of those small victories that makes the hard times worth it."

Speaking with me over direct messages, Vidal said that all the positive attention had made him and his boyfriend feel "welcome in the world," which is not always the case for LGBTQ youth. "It's made such an impact on me."

This is a reminder that things are getting better in small ways every day.

Admittedly, the story — however heartwarming — is still pretty problematic. Quick PSA to all dudes on roofs: Please stop screaming at people to kiss each other.

Catcalling is a bad idea regardless of why you're doing it, and there's no reason to put undue pressure on young people of any gender to kiss each other in public. And while this moment turned out great, it could have definitely been awkward or even upsetting.

That said, we shouldn't let those imperfections take away from the fact that this story proves LGBTQ acceptance is making real strides against toxic masculinity and bigotry.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the day when gay couples can walk around without being jeered at or celebrated. In the meantime, though, this feels like a step in the right direction.

"It's moments like what happened at Seaside that give me hope and make all the hardships worth it," Beyers told me. "It's funny, because we really didn't do anything; all we did was be ourselves in front of some drunk people."

Hey, that kind of bravery is often more than enough.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

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The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

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