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Same-sex Navy couple faces backlash for re-creating iconic WWII kiss: 'We're just showing our love for each other'

Yahoo! Lifestyle logo Yahoo! Lifestyle 28/12/2018 Elise Solé
a man sitting on the side of a road: Kenneth and Bryan Woodington shared their first kiss in seven months since Bryan’s deployment, re-creating an iconic kiss in Times Square, N.Y. (Photo: Facebook/Naval Station Mayport) © Provided by Oath Inc. Kenneth and Bryan Woodington shared their first kiss in seven months since Bryan’s deployment, re-creating an iconic kiss in Times Square, N.Y. (Photo: Facebook/Naval Station Mayport)

A military couple reenacted the classic WW II kiss between a sailor and a nurse after a seven-month deployment. 

On Dec. 21, sailor Bryan Woodington, 33, stepped off the USS The Sullivans at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., eager to greet Kenneth, his husband of one year. According to News 4 Jax, Bryan was one of 300 sailors returning to their families after seven months in the Persian Gulf and Europe. 

“When I saw Bryan, I lost all control and ran over to him,” Kenneth, 30, a special education teacher, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. 

The couple won a lottery to perform the ceremonial first kiss, a naval tradition that allows one lucky sailor to disembark first and greet his or her loved one (in 2011, two female sailors were reportedly the first same-sex couple to win).

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“Bryan suggested that I wear all-white because he wanted to redo that famous photo, but he didn’t know we won the lottery until the day he came home,” Kenneth tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I had never seen the photo myself.”

The dip was impressive, but Kenneth says it’s Bryan’s favorite pose especially when the two dance at home to Lana Del Rey. “I do yoga so it doesn’t hurt my back,” jokes Kenneth.

After local television channel News 4 Jax interviewed the couple, the station reported it was “bombarded” by enraged viewers who wrote, “How sad that your station has dropped to such a low as to show a gay couple kissing on your newscast,” “I’ll never watch your news again!!!! So long, News4Jax” and, “I thought this was a ‘family friendly’ news channel.”

a group of people walking down a street: Kenneth and Bryan Woodington re-created the photo taken by Alfred Eisentaedt in 1945 of a sailor kissing a nurse. (Screenshot: News 4 Jax). © Provided by Oath Inc. Kenneth and Bryan Woodington re-created the photo taken by Alfred Eisentaedt in 1945 of a sailor kissing a nurse. (Screenshot: News 4 Jax).

But Kenneth and Bryan are bolstered by friends, family and the public. On Naval Station Mayport’s Facebook page, people wrote, “A new twist on an old favorite! Love it!” and “I wish my Husband would kiss me like this!”

Some feigned disapproval by writing, “This makes me sick to my stomach. White shoes after Labor Day” and “This is disgusting. The weather should be ashamed of itself looking all gloomy.” 

“There are people who see the beauty in it,” Kenneth tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “As for those who don’t, have a nice day.” 

The U.S. Navy and the Naval Station Mayport did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment. Spokesperson Bill Austin told News 4 Jax that a same-sex kiss is “not an issue” and that the Navy is “gender neutral.” 

“We’re showing our love for each other — we’re not hurting anyone,” Kenneth tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I’m just a spouse waiting for his sailor.”

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