Yes: This Lesbian Navy Homecoming Kiss Is Just The Greatest Thing

Whitney’s Team Pick:

Do you know what happens when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell gets repealed? No, not the uprising of the United Homosexual Baby-Stealing Legion. And no, the United States military doesn’t dissolve into a cacophony of two million soldiers dancing simultaneously to “It’s Raining Men.”

What happens? This does: The Navy’s traditional first homecoming kiss gets to be shared by a lesbian couple, possibly (and most likely) for the first time ever. Both women are sailors in the US Navy — 23-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and 22-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell — and Gaeta had just returned to Virginia Beach from several months at sea. Snell, in civilian clothing, nervously “twist[ed] the small diamond ring on her left hand” as she waited for Gaeta to disembark prior to the kiss, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Aww.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, left, kisses her girlfriend, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, at Little Creek in Virginia Beach on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2011. It's a tradition at Navy homecomings that one sailor is chosen by raffle to be first off the ship to kiss a loved one. Wednesday, for the first time, the reunited couple was same-sex. (Brian Clark | The Virginian-Pilot)

This iconic homecoming kiss between two women is reminiscent of another iconic kiss, V-J Day in Times Square, where an unnamed sailor tips back a girl in white for a kiss in New York City. The cultural importance has changed this time around, though — while the first iconic homecoming kiss celebrated V-J day and the end of World War II, this time around, the kiss locks into place the recent repeal of DADT and signifies the end of officially sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexuality in the military.

Put simply, this is a big deal. Snell puts it best herself in a video interview with The Virginian Pilot (embedded below):

“[The kiss is] significant because it’s the first time where we can actually show who we are. We can be public about it and we don’t have to hide our relationship … I think [the repeal of DADT is] something that’s going to open a lot of doors for not just our relationship but other gay and lesbian relationships that are in the military now.”

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The fact that this kiss wasn’t conceivable only a few months ago is unreal. And it’s not as if queer soldiers didn’t exist under DADT, even if the military wanted to believe otherwise — queer soldiers have been around and serving all along, and their straight peers know it, too. I met a few soldiers on leave in a West Village lesbian bar last summer, and a straight soldier told me about how the friend he came to the bar with was a lesbian. We talked a bit about how she was having such a difficult time in the army because of DADT and how one of his gay peers had committed suicide not long before we met. The point he kept pressing, though, was how difficult it was for his queer peers to function under DADT, with the day-to-day secrecy and self-denial taking such a psychological toll. And the idea that these soldiers couldn’t even greet their same-sex partners when entering or leaving a military area just seems more and more appalling.

DADT is over, and this kiss seals the deal (so to speak)! Now, soldiers can openly support their queer counterparts, as Gaeta’s shipmates may have done for her. Traditionally, the sailor who gets to deliver the homecoming kiss is selected by raffle, with tickets $1 apiece. Gaeta mentions that she purchased 50 tickets but had no idea she would be selected, as other sailors had bought a hundred or more. The adorable part: Gaeta suspects that her division might have chipped in to tip the odds in her favor.

It certainly is about time, isn’t it?

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Whitney Pow

Whitney is a lover of food, books, comic books and journals made for left-handed people. They are a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University, where their research focuses on queer video games and new media. They are also a graphic designer, writer and editor who has worked for places like Opium Magazine, Literary Death Match, Publishers Weekly and The Feminist Press. Check out their website at and follow them on Twitter @whitneypow.

Whitney has written 53 articles for us.


  1. I have a feeling this is going to be an iconic photo for the history books. I know I want a black/white version of this for my wall. In fact, this is totally going to be the new background on my phone.

    We’ll see this on the side when discussing the LGBT rights revolution of the 21st century. And that is a wonderful thing to see history in the making.

  2. Also, one more thing. There is nothing small about that diamond ring. It officially qualifies as a “rock.”

  3. Good thing they’re gorgeous. :)

    Now as we look at this for the next hundred years we get the pretty of the love and the pretty of the pretty!

    • I’m sooooo glad I’m not the only one who thought this! I figured I’d get skewered for saying it out loud. Glad you did.
      Sadly, it’s better for us all that they’re hot. Sorry, but in the bigger civil rights picture – marketing y’all!

      I’m also thrilled that a woman won this lottery! It’s good for women to be at the visible forefront of this battle!

    • We also get the pretty of the petty (officers)! Sorry, that was super nerdy.

      But seriously, this is a huge milestone.

      Anyways, kudos to PO2 Gaeta and PO3 Snell! 50 damn tickets, guys. 50.

  4. this was the best thing i saw on tumblr today.
    so heartwarming!!!!!
    and i def want this to be another iconic kiss photo like the one in times square

  5. Super duper sweet <3

    I was just reading this story somewhere else and they noted at the end that DADT wasnt ruled unconstitutional and could be reinstated by a future president, is that true? It's totally insane if it is. I'd love to believe that nobody could be that cruel, as by then many gay service men/women would be out and if it were reinstated they'd be known, but I just don't know what to expect when it comes to US politicians.

    • foxyboo, it wasn’t ruled unconstitutional, DADT is a federal law which was repealed by the legislature. The house and senate voted for DADT during the Clinton era in response to Clinton’s pushing to allow gay people to serve in the military. The compromise was DADT (if i remember right). Obama pushed for the repeal but there had been many in the legislature who wanted it overturned as well, which is why it got the necessary votes for the law to pass.

      Remember, the president doesn’t have the power to “make” laws (he can write em but he needs the legislature to vote it into law). if a republican got in they would still need the legislature to reinstate DADT. Think about how difficult it is to pass ANY freaking laws these days in congress. I think we’re safe as to it being reinstated.

  6. I’m so glad I’m not the only one crying. This is so beautiful. And I like to think her division did buy raffles just so she could be the winner. So we all win.

    I’m still looking for pictures of Marines and their partners at the last Marine Corps Ball.

  7. I saw this on the news and immediately logged on to autostraddle to see if it was here. AND IT WAS!! So wonderfully perfect.

  8. Christ, this made me tear up a little. And this is coming from someone who has cried, like, five times in her life MAX. Thanks, ladies. Thanks, Navy.

  9. So I was originally pretty apathetic about this (except for the “oo, hot gay girls!” instinct). I can’t say why, I just was :p

    But then I looked up the V-J pic and holy crap, never noticed how AWKWARD it is. Am I the only one who thinks that looks like the most uncomfortable thing ever? I then compared it to the pic of the two girls featured in the article and I was like, ahhh. So much nicer! And now I can’t get over how adorbs the chicks are and how much it looks like they love each other :). Ahh romance :).

    • I think I recall reading somewhere that the people in the V-J pic might not have even known each other? Like the soldier was running around outside and grabbed a nurse and kissed her and a photographer just happened to snap a picture?

      Am I making this up?

      • You are not making this up. That’s exactly what happened (not that I was there;-)). The story I recall is that this was going on all over Times Square but that’s the one that happened to get captured & printed.

  10. It sort of sucks how underwhelmed my family are by this. :.>

    That being said, this is gorgeous. It makes me so happy. Honestly, just happy to my core.

  11. It’s weird how people seek stuff like this out to post comments about how they dissaprove of repealing DADT.

    I’d love to get a group of people together, and follow a homophobe and their partner around all day. Maybe bring popcorn, big drink, and just assess their relationship all day. “He’s a little short for her, right? Wow, is he going to work already? He hardly see’s her, she could do much better. If they’re going to be together he should pay her more attention. Wow, she’s really snappy with him, I bet she’s having an afair. She’s much prettier than him.” Until they inevitably turn around and go “WHAT THE FRITZEL DUDE WHY IS YOUR FACE ALL UP IN MY RELATIONSHIP IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” And we’d be all “BOOM. IT’S THE BITTER BITTER TASTE OF JUSTICE.”

  12. The world is such a fucked up place sometimes.. most times.
    Then you see something like this and it just gives you hope.
    This was so beyond beautiful and I felt it with every fiber in my body.
    This makes me want to believe that maybe the world really is changing half inch by half inch.
    Fuck, we deserve it already.

  13. Aaaah this is incredible, makes me so happy and proud! They’re such a beautiful couple :)

    I think this might be my new favourite photograph ever

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