Gay Navy Couple Receive Racist and Homophobic Comments After Recreating Iconic Photo
A gay Navy sailor has recreated the iconic Second World War kissing photo with his teacher husband - but the heartwarming moment has been marred by an angry homophobic backlash.
Bryan Woodington, 33, returned home to Florida after seven months in the Persian Gulf and Europe on December 21, to greet husband of one year Kenneth Woodington, 30.
The couple won a lottery to perform the ceremonial first kiss, a naval tradition that was captured on Jacksonville station News 4 Jax.
But the station reports that not all their viewers were pleased with the same-sex couple's intimate moment, and News 4 Jax was 'bombarded' by hate messages.
'When I saw Bryan, I lost all control and ran over to him,' Kenneth, a special education teacher, told Yahoo Lifestyle.
According to News 4 Jax, Bryan was one of 300 sailors returning to their families right before Christmas.
'Bryan suggested that I wear all-white because he wanted to redo that famous photo, but he didn't know we won the lottery until the day he came home,' Kenneth added.
The couple had won the lottery that allows for one sailor to disembark first and greet their loved ones with a smooch.
In 2011, two female sailors were the first same-sex couple to win the lottery.
The heartwarming moment was caught on camera as Bryan dipped Kenneth and they shared a smooch.
Once it was broadcast on News4Jax, the hate messages began flooding in.
'How sad that your station has dropped to such a low as to show a gay couple kissing on your newscast,' one viewer wrote.
'I'll never watch your news again!!!! So long, News4Jax' another viewer wrote to the station. 'I thought this was a ''family friendly'' news channel.'
'How many people are now trying to explain to [their] young kids why 2 men were kissing. very disgusting. An ex [viewer],' another said.
The happy couple are brushing off the negative comments.
'It didn't really bother me,' Kenneth told Yahoo. 'Honestly, I'm the type of person who doesn't really care that much about what people say.'
'There are people who see the beauty in it. As for those who don't, have a nice day,' he added.
But not all the backlash is negative, others have left supportive messages for the couple.
On the Naval Station Mayport's Facebook page, one person wrote, 'A new twist on an old favorite! Love it!'
Another said: 'I wish my Husband would kiss me like this!'
Kenneth said: 'We're showing our love for each other, we're not hurting anyone. I'm just a spouse waiting for his sailor.'