A Marine Corps spokesperson calls the welcome home smooch between Sgt. Brandon Morgan and boyfriend Dalan Wells 'your typical homecoming photo.'
But there is nothing typical about the reaction to it.
As of Tuesday (28 February) afternoon PST, the photo had received nearly 40,000 'like' clicks on the Gay Marines Facebook page and had nearly 9,000 comments – many supportive and some downright hostile.
The couple, who have been together four years, reunited on Saturday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii after Morgan completed a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. Their friend, Dave Lewis, snapped the photo of their homecoming kiss and later posted it on Facebook.
It soon went viral.
'This is a homecoming picture—gay, straight, lesbian, no matter who you are, love is love,' Morgan said in an interview with the Hawaiian TV station KHON. 'We haven’t fought for more rights or better rights than anyone. We’ve fought for equal rights, and now we have them.'
Both have been surprised at the level of attention the photo has brought.
'I'm a very shy, private person,' said Wells.
He said 'the only reason I would even be doing something this crazy' as a TV interview is to give encouragement to gay youth.
'If this saves one kid who says, 'Look at this guy, he went and joined the Marine Corps, his life is great.'