A married gay couple, Richie Cohen, 59, and Duane Tragis, 60, has taken TikTok by storm, amassing a viral following with their captivating videos of recreated photos from the 1980s and 1990s. Their nostalgic journey has captivated millions of viewers, with one video racking up over 20 million views alone.
A Love Story for the Ages
The couple met at Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in October 1981, and their love story began as a series of flirtatious glances across an art history lecture hall. They eventually became each other’s first boyfriends, lost their virginity together, and got married after just a couple of months. Despite being denied a marriage license at the time, they were determined and celebrated their union with smiley face rings from a gumball machine.
Embracing the Past with Photos
Richie and Duane, known as the “Photo Booth Boys” during college, have amassed a large archive of old photographs over the years. Their love for old photo booths was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal. The couple now uses these photographs as inspiration for their TikTok videos, recreating the images and sharing their love story with the world.
Breaking Ground in Comedy
Since 1987, the couple has been working together as a comedy team, performing as “Dick & Duane.” Although gay couples doing comedy sketches on social media are not uncommon today, their work in the 1980s was groundbreaking and faced resistance from fellow comics. Nevertheless, audiences adored them and their unique comedic chemistry.
Navigating Hate and Visibility in the Digital Age
Richie and Duane have been surprised by the millions of views their videos have received, as well as the variety of comments they’ve encountered. While they’ve faced hate comments and homophobic remarks, the couple remains unphased, having survived the AIDS crisis in New York City and fought for LGBTQ+ rights with ACT UP. Duane also noted the surprising number of comments about the rarity of older gay couples in the media, something they had never considered before.
As their viral journey on TikTok continues, Richie and Duane’s love story serves as an inspiring testament to the resilience and strength of LGBTQ+ relationships throughout the years.