Bryan Woodington, 33, had just returned from seven months serving in the Persian Gulf and Europe, in time for Christmas. His name was picked out as the sailor who could disembark first and perform a ceremonial kiss, Queerty reports.
It’s a scene San Diegans are familiar with; reunited service members disembarking from their ships after a lengthy tour and giving their loved ones waiting on the dock a passionate smooch. In fact, a statue which mimics the now-famous photograph of a returning World War II sailor kissing a nurse known as “Unconditional Surrender” stands 25-ft. tall over the Port of San Diego.
It was that iconic pose and photo that sparked somewhat of a stir in Florida last week as a gay sailor won the chance to have the “first kiss,” returning from a seven-month tour aboard the USS The Sullivans.
Sailor Kenneth Woodington won, sweeping husband Bryan off his feet. Of course, the whole thing was televised on News4Jax in Jacksonville.
However, not everyone was able to see past the same-sex liplock.
People called in and sent letters that expressed just how much the “first kiss” should not have been by a gay couple.
One viewer wrote, “How sad that your station has dropped to such a low as to show a gay couple kissing on your newscast.”
Another insinuated the kiss was not appropriate for kids, “I thought this was a ‘family friendly’ news channel,” they wrote.
Someone else vowed to never watch their broadcast again, “So long, News4Jax.”
The couple was then asked how they felt about the negative criticism. “Honestly, I’m the type of person who doesn’t really care that much about what people say,” said Kenneth.
Bryan adds, “My grandmother always taught me, she said, ‘You know some people have a different life and this is how they are and you just have to treat them as such, and treat them with kindness and respect.'”
Social media readers seemed to have a different attitude toward the story. A snapshot of the kiss was shared on the Navy Station Mayport Facebook page.
“Times have changed when a gay sailor can welcome home his partner without fear,” wrote one. “Welcome home. Life is short love whoever you want to love!”
An ally said they weren’t offended by it, “Why should it? Love is love for goodness sake!”
“As a “straight” Navy veteran who served proudly with many wonderful LGBTQ members this photo deserves to be posted. Who are we to judge… Side by side we serve without judgement and we all just want to be with our loved ones at the end of the day… That’s all I got to say to the haters out there. This photo is a great example of how far the Navy has come!”
Earlier this year San Diego’s own Brian L. Alvarado and his husband Matthew were guests on the “Ellen” show to celebrate Brian’s title as the 2018 Armed Forces Insurance Navy Spouse of the Year.