This gay Instagram couple did an epic, honest breakup photo shoot
Devon Gibby and Rob Zimmerman, the Instagram couple behind Dads Not Daddies, decided to do something many couples shy away from — talk honestly about their breakup on social media.
Devon and Rob met online four years ago. Gibby was divorced with two kids and he and Zimmerman decided to co-parent in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gibby is a landscape designer and Zimmerman is an actor, filmmaker, and social media manager.
When the couple decided to end their relationship, they shared about it on social media with several Instagram posts and a YouTube video where they talk about the situation. It’s a vulnerable, raw choice for a couple with such a public following, especially since so much of what we see on social media is filtered through a perfect lens.
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[Edit: Wanted to clarify this post regarding the timeline of this photoshoot. These photos were taken while we were still together as a couple and were facing some challenges in our relationship. We were going through some very rocky times and wanted to be transparent in showing beauty that can be found in all elements couples go through, including the struggles. This is something not typically shared or seen, but is very real and should be discussed more freely. Our initial intention was to share these pictures on our joint account to shed a positive light on the challenges and beauty within relationships. As the weeks unfolded after the shoot we decided to end our romantic relationship. But we strongly feel that these pictures have a beautiful purpose and intention of sharing the challenges in relationships, and it is important to share that authenticity. To be clear – these are not and were not breakup pictures.] . Thank you for all the kindness and support you've shown Rob and me after we announced our big changes. I'm feeling quite the vulnerability hangover lately but as I'm processing this change and transitioning the kinds of things I post, I really wanted to share these photos from @kurtisdallon . The emotions are raw and real, but he captures them beautifully. . We scheduled this photoshoot before we made the decision to separate. We considered cancelling it, but with Kurtis' encouragement we chose to go ahead with it and do our best to convey our situation as it is. I'm really glad we did, because as hard as it was to do, it was actually rather cathartic for me. . People usually take photos to commemorate happy life changes like engagements, births of children, or upon achieving one's career or educational goals. They don't take photos to show the emotions one goes through as their romantic relationship ends. But we did, and I love these photos. To me it shows that there is beauty in sitting with your pain and in the vulnerability imbalance that sometimes happens in relationships.
A post shared by Devon – Dad 'n Daddies (@dadndaddies) on
“We don’t necessarily owe an explanation to anyone about our relationship,” explains Gibby in the YouTube video, “but we’ve spent the last 3 and a half years sharing aspects of our lives with you, and we wanna be real with you as we’ve tried really hard to be all along. Just because we post pictures on Instagram doesn’t mean we’re exempt from going through hard times and making hard choices.”
Gibby and Zimmerman went a step further than most couples who are public figures in the age of social media and posted professional breakup photos on Instagram.
“I’m feeling quite the vulnerability hangover lately but as I’m processing this change and transitioning the kinds of things I post, I really wanted to share these photos from @kurtisdallon,” reads Gibby’s Instagram caption.
The couple scheduled this photo shoot before they decided to end their relationship, but while they were going through challenges and hardships. They thought about canceling it but ultimately decided to use it as an opportunity to share the challenges and struggles in relationships.
“We strongly feel that these pictures have a beautiful purpose and intention of sharing the challenges in relationships, and it is important to share that authenticity,” writes Gibby on Instagram.
“We still had a lot of really positive responses to it, as people have been able to connect to it,” Gibby tells Out. “There’s also been a lot of strongly negative responses to it, and I think that’s just because as men we’re conditioned to avoid displaying emotion. I think queer people especially are kind of policed in their displaying of emotion and their expressions. It’s no surprise to me it’s happening now, especially in the gay community.”
Although Gibby doesn’t feel that social media had a part in his and Zimmerman’s breakup, he admits that the culture around Instagram couples can be a lot of pressure. He doesn’t regret sharing the breakup on social media but feels a sense of relief about not having to be part of such a public-facing Instagram couple anymore. Gibby plans to take Dads Not Daddies in a new direction following the breakup where he can feature other LGBTQ+ dads and connect with the community in a new way.
Alaina Leary Lavoie
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