Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lesbian Couple Get First Kiss at Navy Homecoming

The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell made itself readily apparent as the Navy's dock landing ship Oak Hill arrived back at Little Creek Amphibious Base after deployment. On many ships there is a "first kiss" lottery to see which crew member will be the first off the ship on returning to home port and receive the first kiss from a spouse. On the Oak Hill, the lottery winner was Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and she was greeted and kissed on the pier by her partner of two years, Citlalic Snell, who is also a member of the military. The women are pictured at right and in the video below. No doubt the local Bible beaters will have a fit - especially since neither of the women seem to fit the negative stereotype so popular with the haters. Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

It’s been three months since the dock landing ship [Oak Hill] left home for Central America, and all of the usual fanfare is waiting to greet its crew: crowds of cheering families, toddlers dressed in sailor suits, and the lucky, excited woman who’s been chosen to take part in a time-honored Navy tradition, the first homecoming kiss.

In this case, that woman is 22-year-old Citlalic Snell. She’s a sailor herself, assigned to destroyer Bainbridge, but today she’s in civilian clothes – jeans, boots and a stylish leather jacket. Watching pierside as the Oak Hill pulls into port, she absentmindedly twists the small diamond ring that’s on her left hand.

A handful of top officers are first off the ship, and then comes a young woman in dress blues, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta. Snell cracks a wide smile. “That’s her,” she says.

When Gaeta spots her, she smiles too. They embrace. With all eyes watching, they keep the kiss short, and the crowd cheers. As the rest of the crew begins to file off the ship, Gaeta and Snell slip away for a few moments alone before speaking to a group of news reporters. They say they’re both a little embarrassed by all the attention, but they understand it. “It’s a big deal,” Gaeta says. “It’s been a long time coming.”

They explain that they’ve been dating for a little over two years, about as long as they’ve been in the Navy. They met right after boot camp. They were roommates at their first training school, where they both became fire controlmen.

Until this September, when the military’s ban on openly gay service was lifted, they worked hard to keep their relationship secret. When Snell came home from her last deployment in August, kissing on the pier wasn’t an option.

“This is the first time we can actually show who we are,” Snell says. Adds Gaeta, "It's nice to be able to be myself." While she says she already considers Snell her wife, they’re planning for a wedding down the road.

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