A photograph showing a United State Marine's homecoming was posted to a public Facebook page on Saturday evening. Unlike the countless other images uploaded to the social network on that day, this one triggered thousands of re-posts and likes — along with hundreds of news stories.
Why? Because in the photograph, Sgt. Brandon Morgan is embracing and kissing his male partner, Dalan Wells.
The image was posted to a Facebook page called "Gay Marines" with a caption explaining that it shows the homecoming "for a Marine who posts on this page." The text finishes with a simple "Semper Fi, brother."
At the time of this story, there are over eight thousand comments, nearly six thousand shares, and over 35,000 likes on the Facebook post. There are also hundreds of news stories about the image by outlets such as ABC News, The Atlantic, NPR, and more.
We reached out to Morgan and Wells to hear what they think about their sudden Internet fame, but in the meantime we did notice that a reader of blog Joe.My.God. spotted a statement on Morgan's Facebook page:
To everyone who has responded in a positive way. My partner and I want to say thank you.
Dalan, the giant in the photo, can't believe how many shares and likes we have gotten on this. We didn't do this to get famous,or something like that we did this cause after 3 deployments and four years knowing each other, we finally told each other how we felt.
As for the haters, let em hate...to quote Kat Williams, everyone needs haters, so let them hate. We are the happiest we have ever been and as for the whole PDA and kissing slash hugging in uniform...it was a homecoming, if the Sergeants Major, Captains, Majors, and Colonels around us didn't care...then why do you care what these random people have to say?
In summation thank you for your love and support. I received a lot of friend requests off this. I don't just accept requests so if your request was because of this post message me and let me know. Goodnight all, and Semper Fi.
The photo of Morgan and Wells kissing isn't the first of its kind, of course. In Dec. 2011, the Associated Press published a photo of two women sharing what was — according to the Navy — the first same-sex reunion kiss. But while Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell certainly made history with their smooch, and the news story drew plenty of social media attention, it is difficult to compare the response they received to the one we're seeing to the photo of Morgan and Wells.
Unlike with that first kiss, there was no AP photographer on hand and things didn't start with a news article or press release. Instead, it was a simple Facebook post which triggered a wave of attention, both good and bad.
We will likely see many more similar images in the future, thanks to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act, which allows for openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual individuals to openly serve in the U.S. military. The act was signed into law by President Obama in Dec. 2010 and implemented in Sept. 2011.
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