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By Lucas Thompson

They call themselves The Gay Beards, but behind all that quirkily groomed facial hair is nearly 20 years of friendship -- and so much more.

Brian Delaurenti and Johnathan Dahl, better known as The Gay Beards, have been best friends ever since they met at the age of 8. “Something between us just very much clicked and from that day forward, we've been practically inseparable,” Delaurenti explained.

With more than 250,000 followers on Instagram, the Portland-based friends rely on their humor, creativity and their bond to make their content.

“Something we both tend to admire about one another is our lack of being so serious in a world that can sometimes focus too much on the negative. That being said, we both have a strong desire to work towards creating a platform for those individuals who may feel isolated, unlovable or perhaps scared to live out their own dreams. These qualities have led us to become the goofy bearded men we are today,” Delaurenti said.

The openly gay duo certainly don’t take their friendship for granted and recognize each other’s support was crucial in their self-realizations. “I think with regards to friendship in the LGBTQ community, this speaks volumes because of the shared experiences and struggles that can come from growing up outside what many consider the 'normal perspective,” Delaurenti said.

"Our love is unconditional and our brotherhood is truly irreplaceable, something that we always will be forever grateful for."

“One of the biggest issues plaguing youth in the LGBTQ community is the idea of feeling alone and misunderstood. The fear of rejection is so high, that having a friend who's been there themselves can make a world of a difference. I know it certainly did for Johnathan and I.”

The two reflected on their younger years and the importance of recognizing common insecurities that lead to letting their guards down with each other.

“Once you grow up, you tend to realize that this whole concern really does span more widely than not, and because of this, allowing yourself to see others with these same fears and vulnerabilities would have made it a lot easier to create bonds earlier on in life,” Delaurenti said.

Delaurenti feels "completely at peace" when he is with his friends. “As far as we know, each person only has so many trips around the sun in this lifetime," he told NBC OUT.

Dahl chimed in: “They are the people who ultimately we will grow with and mold us into our future selves. The peace that you can find in a friend is absolutely amazing. Someone who doesn't necessarily have any moral or legal obligations to call you family, yet is very much indeed, your family."

Delaurenti and Dahl consider themselves brothers, a closeness that shines through The Gay Beards account.

“The best thing about Johnathan and I's friendship has to be our ability to understand each other," Delaurenti added. "Not many people out there have the luxury of knowing what it's like to have a twin sibling, but I feel like Johnathan and I come as close to that as possible without sharing identical DNA. Seeing that we have spent so much time together, for so long, we both have a genuine understanding for each of our ups and our downs. Our love is unconditional and our brotherhood is truly irreplaceable, something that we always will be forever grateful for.”

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