Life changed drastically for a gay male couple in Atlanta one year ago, after they snapped a simple selfie of themselves getting their daughters ready for school in the morning. Kordale Lewis and Kaleb Anthony posted the intimate, sleepy-eyed image to Instagram, where it swiftly went viral, soon racking up more than 40,000 views. It launched a swirl of online discussion, support, and bigotry around the notion of two black men being lovers, being dads, and raising three kids. Last week the men were back in the public eye, as camera company Nikon tapped the family of five to be a part of its new “I Am Generation Image” ad campaign, releasing a 2-minute video of the family.
“We just want people to know that, hey, we’re normal. And you can’t judge people on their normal — you really can’t,” Lewis says in the start of the video, which shows the dads and their daughters and a son, ages 6, 7, and 8 cooking, eating, doing hair, and discussing the origins of that now-famous photo while at home in Georgia.
The original photo that went viral. Photo by Instagram.
“What happened was, we were in the bathroom, we were doing the girls’ hair, and I said ‘Oh, let me take a picture,’” says Anthony, an engineer with AT&T. “In the picture we captioned it, ‘This is us every day getting up at 5:30 in the morning and getting our daughters ready for school, and it was a simple innocent picture…I’m still amazed, like, why did this picture go viral?”
Still, it struck many a cord — or nerve — depending on the viewer’s perspective, prompting the dads to speak out against backlash both homophobic and racist. Lewis, who works for his family’s transportation business, has even written a personal memoir, “Picture Perfect?” about his life before and since becoming a parent.
He tells Yahoo Parenting that their story has most likely caused such a stir because of “the fact that we’re African-American and we are the modern family, and this is our daily life for real,” and because “African-American fathers, in my experience, have often left their families. We are like an eye opener for many African-American women.” (“The fact that we are attractive doesn’t hurt,” he adds.) The couple — who cannot legally marry in Georgia but who are registered as domestic partners — plan on having another baby this year, says Lewis, noting that the mother of their children is an ex-partner of his who “knew the deal” from the beginning.
Lewis with his daughter. Photo courtesy of Nikon.
Nikon tapped the family to be a part of its new campaign, which celebrates a generation that shares more images than ever before. “Kordale & Kaleb really embody the idea of ‘I Am Generation Image’; with one photo shared on social media they were able to convey so much about themselves and their family,” a Nikon spokesperson says in a statement provided to Yahoo Parenting.
A press release explains the concept behind the campaign: “Each day we upload tens of thousands of images, making us the first generation to truly embrace pervasive visual communication,” it reads. “Whether it’s love, laughter or a call to act for the greater good, the feeling you get when you look at a photo or watch a video should reflect the intent and emotions of the person behind the lens.” Other individuals featured in the series so far include a vegan chef, an urban cyclist, and an advocate for the homeless.
Lewis says he feels strongly that speaking out and being open about their lives is important, both to promote LGBT equality and to emphasize what he believes is so important in life: being a good parent. “My dad is in prison for double murder, and my mom is a crackhead who has abused me,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “Kids need loving homes and families, and I feel like I am the best father I can be — and that’s what’s important.”
Anthony and the kids. Photo courtesy of Nikon.