As is tradition in the US Navy, a lottery is held to determine which lucky spouse will get to receive the ceremonial ‘first kiss’ as sailors return home from a long deployment
Spouses can enter the raffle with the funds donated to charity.
Kenneth Woodington, who works in special education, was the lucky winner meaning he would be first to kiss his spouse, Bryan Woodington, when the USS The Sullivans returned from seven months in the Middle East.
Kenneth told News4Jax, "When he got off the ship, I lost all control, I just dropped everything and I just ran.”
“And I knew I was going to dip him,” added Bryan.
The kiss reminded many of the iconic 1945 Times Square kiss on V-J Day.
In the news report from News4Jax, you can hear the cheers from the crowd.
But some folks just got to hate. And so it was that the news station received some angry emails over broadcasting the same-sex kiss.
From some of the email comments:
“How sad that your station has dropped to such a low as to show a gay couple kissing on your newscast. How many people are now trying to explain their young kids why 2 men are kissing, very disgusting.”
“I’ll never watch your news again!!!! So long, News4Jax."
“I thought this was a ‘family friendly’ news channel.”
However, the photo of the smooch was also posted to Naval Station Mayport’s Facebook page where the image received overwhelmingly positive response.
Times have changed when a Gay sailor can welcome home his partner without fear. Welcome home. Life is short love whoever you want to love
Duty, honor, country. Love whomever you want. Semper fi.
I'm not gay and this doesn't offend me one damn bit. Why should it? Love is love for goodness sake!
Wish my man would kiss me like this!! Just saying…
This is so bad ass
Some folks trolled the few haters with backhanded comments about the weather and fashion sense:
This is digsuting. (sic) The weather should be ashamed of itself looking all gloomy.
This makes me sick to my stomach. White shoes after Labor Day
In the responses, over 500 viewers clicked “Love,” another 250+ clicked “Like,” and only four sad fools clicked “Angry.”
The Woodingtons, who are newlyweds, are aware of the negative comments, but say this moment can be a teaching moment in 2018.
"It didn’t really bother me," Kenneth said. "Honestly, I’m the type of person who doesn’t really care that much about what people say."
"My grandmother always taught me, she said, 'You know some people have a different life and that’s just how they are and you just have to treat them as such, and treat them with kindness and respect,'" Bryan added.
For now, Bryan says that he’s more focused on happiness: “I gave him nothing but love and care and understanding right out the gate, so I think we just fell for each other really hard and we both knew what we really wanted.”
The couple also says the Navy has been nothing but supportive to them as a family.
A spokesman for Naval Station Mayport, Bill Austin, told News4Jax this isn’t the first same-sex kiss and it is not an issue for the Navy. He said the maritime branch of the armed forces “has always been gender neutral and on the forefront of progress.”
Watch News4Jax’s report below.