After Michelle Gallahan encountered new friend Kevin Franco at a party, the pair eventually decided to continue their conversation at his home. However, what happened later that night quickly went viral. And Franco never could have predicted that his actions would lead to an online uproar – not to mention some very contrasting opinions.
Gallahan herself, meanwhile, is a college student from Texas who has been studying for a semester in Sydney, Australia. And the 23-year-old has already formed friendships during her time Down Under, including with fellow American student Jessica Lipsey. The pair are roommates, in fact, and they’re now closer than ever after finding themselves at the center of an impassioned internet debate.
That debate arose, moreover, after an experience that Gallahan had in Sydney. On one weekend, she had gone to a party with a group of pals. And, during the evening, she bumped into Franco, another American student whom she had recently befriended. The pair subsequently had a conversation about what it was like to be living abroad; by all accounts, they were getting along well.
Then, eventually, both Gallahan and Franco decided to leave the party. By that point, however, it was late, and Gallahan had been drinking. And as her residence with Lipsey was a considerable distance from the venue, Franco came up with a solution.
Specifically, Franco invited Gallahan to hang out at his home for a little while so that she didn’t have to make the trip back to her place. That way, they could carry on their chat about life in Sydney while she sobered up. “I would have felt bad if she walked home and fell or got hurt along the way,” Franco told BuzzFeed in March 2018.
And after Franco and Gallahan made it back to his house, they talked in his bedroom until around 5:00 a.m. At that point, Gallahan started to fall asleep in Franco’s bed. He let her doze there, however, instead of waking her up to head home in the early hours of the morning.
Franco said of this choice to BuzzFeed, “If I was in that situation, I wouldn’t want to be asked to leave at 3:00 a.m. to walk a mile home. If something happened, I would have felt really bad, and it seemed like an opportunity to do something nice.” But, on the other hand, Franco didn’t want Gallahan to get the wrong idea about him or their relationship.
As a consequence, Franco decided to stay up and do something “productive.” So he headed into the living room that he shared with his housemates and quietly worked on his tax return, while Gallahan slept in the bedroom alone. She woke up less than two hours later.
And Gallahan was hugely grateful for what Franco had done. “He just said he didn’t want me to be uncomfortable… waking up next to a sleeping guy could do that to you,” she told BuzzFeed. “He’s absolutely the nicest guy I’ve ever met. I would not have been in his house, definitely not his room, otherwise!”
Furthermore, Gallahan later recounted what happened to Lipsey, who found the scenario funny enough to tweet about. “My roommate fell asleep in a guy’s bed, and he was so worried she would think he took advantage of her that he stayed up and did his taxes in the living room until she woke up,” she told her followers on February 24, 2018. Lipsey added, “lmao i guess all guys aren’t trash after all.”
And Lipsey was shocked by the huge reaction that her tweet subsequently received. “Honestly, no one reads my tweets. And, obviously, I did not think it would ever, ever go viral,” she admitted to BuzzFeed. But it did – racking up over 158,000 likes, with 24,000 users tweeting about the story that she’d shared.
What’s more, the comments couldn’t have been more divided. While many social media users praised Franco for his chivalry, others were incensed that he felt the need to leave the room at all. “Nah, the fact this poor dude was so afraid of getting accused of rape shows the real problem,” one person wrote. Some even claimed that Gallahan had been irresponsible.
Indeed, the story has since come under intense scrutiny. Some Twitter users were even convinced that the tale had been made up, with several tweets suggesting that the incident simply “didn’t happen.” However, Gallahan, Lipsey, and Franco have all insisted that it did.
What’s more, Lipsey was also branded as “sexist” for her words. “Instead of speaking about [a] male doing the right thing, how about speaking to your female room mate and tell her not to fall asleep in random guys’ beds. Common sense. Very sexist lie you have told,” one furious Twitter user wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
In fact, Lipsey claimed that around half the responses were angry, and that many of those comments came from men. Others would also accuse Gallahan of behaving suggestively by falling asleep in Franco’s bed. But one BuzzFeed user argued, “If a woman falls asleep at a friend’s house, she should expect to not be raped. Falling asleep is not ‘leading him on.’ What is wrong with people?”
By contrast, many commenters thought that Franco was considerate, although one pointed out that “it’s a shame” that he felt what he did was necessary. Franco was also called “lovely” and “a good man” on Twitter, and some women stated that they want to find a guy like him. Another wrote that they hoped that Franco got a big refund on his taxes.
Lipsey would later explain, however, that she had posted the story simply because she wanted to emphasize Franco’s respectful behavior. “I loved the message it sent out about him being a ‘not trash’ guy, and the standard that people in general should uphold to,” she told BuzzFeed. “I think that people should be aware that there are many ways to handle a situation you feel uncomfortable in. And one way is to remove yourself – probably the best way.”
But Franco himself doesn’t believe that he should be applauded for his honorable deed. “I don’t think what I did is particularly fantastic or great, let alone noble,” he confessed. “I’m still shocked to see that it’s become so viral – I was just concerned for someone who was drunk.”
Lipsey also readily admitted that Franco’s thoughtful actions didn’t require a huge amount of effort on his part. She did add, however, that sometimes it’s the little things that count. “It’s not the largest gesture ever, but it is at least enough that she felt safe and he did the right thing,” Lipsey said.
And even though the story caused controversy, it still seems to have been a positive experience overall for those involved. In fact, Franco has said that the trio have since become very close as a result of the unexpected attention that the tweet received. And Gallahan added, “Really, I think it is a lovely example of how nice a friendship can be!”