By Patrick Rucker and Alistair Bell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pope Francis met with a gay couple at the Vatican Embassy in Washington during the pontiff's visit to the United States last week, one of the participants said on Friday.
It was a quiet gesture of outreach to the gay community that emerged as the Vatican tried to smother controversy about a separate meeting the pope held with well-known American gay marriage opponent Kim Davis.
The pontiff met on Sept. 23 with Yayo Grassi, a U.S-based Argentine caterer, and his male partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, and three other people for 15 minutes, Grassi told Reuters. The Vatican confirmed the meeting.
Grassi, 67, has known the pope since Francis, 78, taught him literature and psychology at a high school in Argentina in the 1960s and has stayed in touch.
"What I can say is that he met with me knowing that I am gay and we had an extraordinary, very moving conversation," Grassi said.
Both Grassi and his partner posted a video of the encounter on their Facebook pages.
The video shows Francis and his former student warmly embracing and chatting in Spanish in an ornate room in the embassy.
Grassi then introduces the pope one-by-one to three women and his partner, Bagus. Francis appears to know Bagus, and they shake hands warmly and talk about having met earlier in Rome.
At the end of their conversation, Francis embraces both men and kisses them on the cheek.
(Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)