It was the lip lock felt ’round the world.
When the U.S.S. Oak Hill came home to Virginia Beach on Dec. 21, 2011 after a long deployment, Petty Officer 2nd class Marissa Gaeta kissed her girlfriend, Citlalic Snell, to commemorate the dock landing ship’s ceremonial first kiss. Gaeta, like many of the sailors on board, had purchased several $1 tickets in the Oak Hill’s raffle in order to compete for the opportunity.
The act was much publicized and discussed. It was the first time in the naval homecoming tradition that a gay serviceperson had done the honors and embraced a person of the same sex.
With no advance hoopla or protests—the ship’s commanding officer, David Bauer, called it a “non-event”—this simple gesture was seen as a symbol that President Barack Obama’s then-recent signing of a repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, a controversial initiative that asked gay soldiers to keep their sexuality hidden, was being accepted by a majority within the ranks.
You can find the article in HR's September issue. Or you can click here to read the rest of "Sexuality in Service."