By Gareth Shoulder @garethshoulder
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Videographer / director: Eden Sabolboro
Producer: Gareth Shoulder, Ruby Coote
Editor: Pete Ansell
Although the age of legal consent in Ypsilanti, Michigan is 16, it doesn’t stop online trolls attacking Mark Nichols, 56, for dating 23-year-old Kayleb Alexander.
The pair met on a gay dating app after Kayleb had been kicked out of his accommodation.
Despite the 33-year age gap between the couple, they have recently celebrated their 6-year anniversary by buying a house together in Hawaii.
Mark told Barcroft TV: “Online it’s very harsh, everything from he’s a paedophile to this is sick.
“There’s a lot of people with very closed minds who believe two men shouldn’t be together.
“If an older man is dating a younger woman, it’s almost seen to be like a trophy bride.
“But if an older man is dating a younger man, it’s somehow sick and twisted.”
Kayleb adds: “People shouldn’t judge age gap relationships in general, especially if the two are of legal age.
“When I get comments that call my boyfriend a paedophile, that triggers me.
“My boyfriend is in a consensual relationship with a 23-year-old male.”
Kayleb has a successful YouTube channel where he posts content about his age gap relationship.
With titles such as ‘Daddy Bought Me A Car’ and ‘My Daddy Bought Me A House’ the page has attracted over 140,000 subscribers.
Mark acknowledges some of the videos are deliberately designed to court controversy.
The 56-year-old said: “One of the judgements is that I must be buying his affection.
“The YouTube channel probably encourages that. It’s sensationalised
“He’s not a sugar baby, he’s very capable of taking care of himself.”
Kayleb admits his provocative content has sometimes backfired in the past.
After posting a video about catching Mark taking a candid picture, Kayleb received messages from critics questioning the validity of their relationship.
“There’s things that have a joking title, then there’s some reality of my life.
“That was a hard lesson we learnt not to share.
“Mark is human, I’m human and I’d be lying to say I didn’t make mistakes in this relationship.
“That took us a good few months to get over.”
Friends and family of the pair have had their concerns about the large age gap in the relationship.
An eyebrow was first raised by Kayleb’s friend Evana Daily when she discovered Mark was 49 when the couple met.
She told Barcroft TV: “As a friend I think about long term things like his health.
“[Kayleb] is a super adventurous person and is he going to be hiking mountains with him?
“Other things I think about are concerns about what his interests were. Kayleb’s way younger than him.
“But it’s so weird because when I met Mark, instantly I didn’t have any of these doubts anymore.”
Mark says he understands people would have a negative perception of the relationship, but incredibly it has lasted the test of time.
Despite the critics the couple have recently celebrated their 6-year anniversary together and say they’ve never been happier.
“I’m sure a lot of people expected this to be some weird flash in the pan,” said Mark.
“People thought he’ll move onto a new sugar daddy, but we’ve been together for six years.
“We’ve outlived a lot of marriages and we don’t have any intention of parting ways.”
Kayleb and Mark remain stoic about their relationship, unsure of what challenges the future may bring.
Although Mark’s health in the future is a concern for the pair, Kayleb insists he’s around for as long as Mark is.
Kayleb said: “I look forward to spending the rest of my life with Mark.
“Even if he’s going to be in a wheelchair, I want to take care of him the same way he took care of me.”