The emotional moment when a U.S. sailor reunited with his beau after seven months at sea was clouded with backlash when some people on social media claimed it was inappropriate for the Navy to encourage two men kissing.
Bryan Woodington, a sailor on the USS The Sullivans, won the ceremonial first kiss after deployment and was photographed kissing and dipping his husband, Kenneth, at the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida.
“He was just overwhelmed from the pier, so excited, tears in his eyes just in anticipation to see his husband,” Naval Station Mayport Public Affairs Officer Bill Austin told InsideEdition.com. “It’s a special moment when you come back from seven months' tour and you get the first kiss. It’s a pretty special thing.”
But once the photo hit social media, some followers didn’t have the same sentiment in mind.
“As a retired US Navy veteran, this makes me sick!” one person commented on the photo, posted by the Navy Station Mayport’s Facebook page.
Another said, “Please remove this garbage!”
But neither the couple nor the Navy were bothered by the negative comments.
Austin explained the ceremonial first kiss was chosen by lottery, and most sailors with a significant other put their names in the drawing. This time was no different.
“We have been gender-neutral, sexual orientation-neutral for a long time,” Austin said. “To us, this isn’t really an event, this is part of life in the Navy.”
And, he was also confident that Woodington’s fellow seamen feel the same.
“Anytime you’re part of a ship’s crew it’s a brotherhood or sisterhood,” Austin explained. “It’s a family. Families stick together.”