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12/27/2016 04:57 pm ET

New York Subway Station Features Gay Couple In Groundbreaking Mural

It's believed to be the city's first permanent, non-political LGBTQ piece of public art.

New York subway art is about to get a bit more inclusive. 

When the city’s long-awaited Second Avenue subway line opens New Year’s Day, commuters will get a first look at a series of life-size, mural portraits adorning the new 72nd Street station ― including a depiction of two married gay men holding hands.

Artist Vik Muniz told the Associated Press that he opted to include New York married couple Thor Stockman and Patrick Kellogg in his “Perfect Strangers” mural project because “they are just people you would expect to see” riding the city’s subway.

Thor Stockman, left, and husband Patrick Kellogg posed for the photograph on which "Perfect Strangers" is based three years a
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Thor Stockman, left, and husband Patrick Kellogg posed for the photograph on which "Perfect Strangers" is based three years ago in Brooklyn. 

”You would expect to see men holding hands,” the artist, who divides his time between the U.S. and Brazil, said.  

Kellogg said he and Stockman posed for the photograph on which their “Perfect Strangers” mural is based while meeting up with a friend who was working with Muniz three years ago in Brooklyn. Earlier this year, they learned that their image would be among those that the artist had selected for replication in the subway station project. Although the news felt like “winning the lottery,” Stockman said the men were asked to keep it under wraps until specifics of the installations were made public by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) earlier this month. 

The couple is particularly proud of their participation in the project, which is believed to be New York’s first permanent, non-political LGBTQ piece of public art, because they see themselves as the type of same-sex couple not normally represented in popular culture. “Our friends were even happier that this is gay representation that is not incredibly beautiful and skinny,” Kellogg told the AP. 

Among those to praise the Second Avenue subway works was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called it the “largest public art installation” in the state’s history, according to Gothamist

“Public works projects are not just about function—they’re an expression of who we are and what we believe,” Cuomo, who will take the Second Avenue subway’s inaugural ride on New Year’s Eve, said. “Any child who has never walked into a museum or an art gallery can walk the streets of New York and be exposed to art and education simply by being a New Yorker. That is where we came from and that is what makes New York special.”

What a beautiful way to honor the city’s diversity and embrace of all people! 

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