CARMEL, N.Y. (AP) â€” The duo voted "cutest couple" in the senior class at a suburban New York high school say they're getting teased about it â€” but not because they're both boys.
"Yeah, our friends are giving it to us about being Internet famous," said 18-year-old Dylan Meehan, a senior at Carmel High School.
"We've never had any problems at all," added 17-year-old senior Brad Taylor. "As a matter of fact, before the results, people were telling us ahead of time, 'You guys are going to win hands down.'"
The gay couple's selection â€” a first at Carmel High â€” has become an online sensation, driven by a yearbook photo of the smiling boys in a close embrace. A friend's blog with the photo had more than 110,000 hits Monday, and it was cited in stories on several major news sites.
They received so much attention that they released a statement saying "the whole thing has been a bit surreal."
They said that when they first started dating a year ago, "the thought of a photo of us traveling throughout the world would be a bit frightening, but now we are proud to be part of the LGBT community."
Other students said the boys are well-liked and always willing to help younger students as part of the school's mentoring program.
"They're very accepted because they're so loving â€” toward everybody," said freshman Cristal Leiva.
Principal Kevin Carroll said tolerance is stressed all the time at the school, but he thinks acceptance of gays is not much of an issue for current high schoolers.
"You can still hear about a gay man being attacked in New York City," he said, referring to a recent killing in Greenwich Village, "but these kids don't think that way."
However, officials were concerned enough that they checked with the boys and their parents before the "cutest couple" selection was memorialized in the yearbook.
Meehan's mother, Diane Maher, said, "My concern always is for his safety," but her son has had no problems at school. "He's in a healthy, positive relationship. They encourage each other to do well."