The Navy’s time-honored 'First Kiss' on the dock after sailors return from sea will never be the same after this week.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta won the traditional raffle on the dock landing ship Oak Hill and got to be the first to kiss a loved one on its return to Virginia Beach. That loved one was her girlfriend of two years Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell.
The kiss, a powerful symbol of the military's post-Don't Ask Don't Tell era, has been written about in such major newspapers as the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times and was even posted on the Navy’s official site, The Navy.Mil.
But it is making its biggest impact on YouTube where, as of today (23 December), it had more than 1 million hits.
Video of the kiss and a brief interview with the couple was posted by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper which had a first-hand report on the homecoming earlier this week and published the now famous photo taken by Brian Clark.
'I feel good about it,' said Gaeta who bought 50 raffle tickets for $1 each. 'It's nice to be able to be myself. It's been a long time coming.'
Snell said she believes Gaeta winning the raffle 'was meant to be.'
'It's significant because it's the first time where we can show who we actually are,' she said. 'We can show it, we can be public about it, we don't have to hide our relationship. I think that's going to open doors not just for our relationship, but for all the other relationships that are in the military now.'
Gaeta had left on the Oak hill for Central America three months ago while Snell is assigned to the destroyer Bainbridge.
Before DADT was officially repealed in September, Gaeta and Snell had kept their relationship a secret. The couple, who met in boot camp, are discussing marriage.