Instagram celebrity duo The Gay Beards share stories of friendship, fame and coming out
What happens when you give two men the creative leeway to put whatever they want in their facial hair? You get The Gay Beards, featuring Brian Delaurenti, Johnathan Dahl and their luscious beards that rival any lumberjack.
“Brian and I have always had the drive to try something new, to be different and most importantly be our own bosses,” Dahl said in an interview with Eagle News. “When Brian decided to grow his beard, it made me jealous so I decided to grow mine out too, without even knowing if I was able to. After we both had decent sized beards, it just made sense that we try to create something around the idea that we’ve been best friends since fourth grade, who both happened to be gay and coincidentally were both able to grow full beards.”
The duo from Portland, Oregon began their foray into beard decorating by an impromptu, flowery photo shoot.
“Johnathan and I were in our backyard with a good friend of ours who just so happens to work in the film industry. As we were wandering through our garden, being from Portland, that probably won’t surprise most people, our buddy asked if he could put a few flowers in our beards and snap a couple of photographs,” Delaurenti said. “Reluctantly, we agreed.”
Delaurenti and Dahl fell in love with the photos, so much that they created The Gay Beards Instagram and began posting images of what would lead them into beard-décor history.
Since that day in the summer of 2014, the account has racked up a following of over 258,000 followers on Instagram.
The pair continues to stun their audience with everything from placing Legos in their whiskers to full-fledged (and messy) glitter beards.
Dahl said that the longest project The Gay Beards has done is easily glitter and paint.
“Typically glitter is the easiest thing to put in our beards, and the hardest thing to get out. Though shampoo will get most of it, it can take days to clear all of the sparkly specs from our face fuzz. Even then, weeks can go by and we will still occasionally find rogue glitter dust somewhere floating around in there,” Dahl said.
With great beards comes great responsibility and the two have perfected the art of keeping their facial hair neat and clean after their projects.
Delaurenti and Dahl trim and shape their beards a few times a month, along with the daily routine of beard oil, balm, mustache wax (for those sweet handlebars), shampoo, conditioner and brushing with a boar-bristle brush.
As Delaurenti said, “a healthy beard is a happy beard.” The two were even featured on Australia-based, botanical beard oil shop The Groomed Man Co.’s website for “The Beard Series” and “Beard Trends – The Glitter Beard.”
The pair’s friendship goes far beyond the beards, back to when the two were just 8 years old. Both have become so close that they consider one another brothers rather than best friends.
Delaurenti mentioned that coming out meant finding a way through the struggle of admitting he was gay in a place that was “very liberal in its views.”
The process was real and challenging. He realized that if it was tough for him, it had to have been immensely tougher for others going through similar struggles elsewhere in the country, and even the world.
Dahl took a bit longer (by around four years) to come out than then 17-year-old Delaurent. Coincidentally, the two came out to the same person, just years apart.
“I remember when Brian had mentioned long after he came out that he told his nurse after he got his teeth pulled, without meaning to. So four years later, I had to get my teeth pulled and I was mortified because all I could think about was not saying anything,” Dahl said. “After I woke up … I realized I was bawling and I asked my nurse why I was crying. She told me that I came out to her, but that it was OK and it wasn’t the first time it happened to her. Then, I found out that it happened to be the exact same nurse Brian came out to. Small world. Crazy coincidence.”
As members of the LGBT community, Delaurenti and Dahl filmed a video in June for Portland’s “PRIDE Week,” in which the two spray-painted their beards a rainbow of colors. The two have attended plenty of pride festivals in the past, but never as the iconic The Gay Beards.
“We met a ton of people during the weekend and were quite taken back by the number of gay-beard-supporters we ran into,” Delaurenti said. “Getting to spread our love with images across social media is an incredible opportunity in its own right, but getting to meet some of our followers in person and hear about their own stories is absolutely priceless.”
Dahl had never thought of himself as a symbol for the LGBT masses, but like Delaurenti, he is honored that his fans consider him one.
Aside from the fun of dressing up their beards, The Gay Beards has become a way for the pair to strip down stereotypes of what is normal and encourage those to be proud of who they are.
“I think the main issue I see in the LGBT community is that people are often afraid to be themselves. One of our main messages we try to deliver is that it’s okay to be yourself and to stay true to who you are,” Dahl said. “Even when it seems like you can’t be yourself and things aren’t going how you thought they would, it always gets better and that you can never say no one loves you, because we love you.”
The Gay Beards have begun to gear up for the fall season and were able to tell Eagle News exclusively that they will be preparing unconventional Halloween themed beard ideas.
“Though we don’t want to give too much away, you can bet that we will be giving our best rendition of a Pumpkin Spice Latte beard, and even more exciting, there will definitely be a glitter beard, or two, to celebrate the fall season,” Delaurenti said.
Dahl added that their followers should keep an eye out for things like leaves, pumpkins and their Halloween costumes.
Throughout their journey of coming out and their Instagram account taking off, Delaurenti and Dahl have taken the love and support of their fans to heart.
“I just hope that people see our images and have the opportunity to smile, if a smile is what they need,” Delaurenti said. “At times, life can be scary, hollow, and uncertain, but it won’t always be that way. We want to be a light for others in their times of darkness, and if we can help, even for just a second, that makes what we do infinitely worth it.”