It's been widely noted that two men kissing is a lot more freighted than two women, which is why some people complained when I posted the dock-side photo of Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta kissing Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell in Virginia Beach last December shortly after the military lifted DADT. In contrast, and because a male version was bound to have its due, Facebook and tens of thousands have now catapulted Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan and partner Dalan Wells to the center of the digital public square.
There are several elements to point out about this photo which both punctuate the kiss and the potential for pushing buttons of less open-minded viewers. Here they are in increasing order of impact:
First, the big smooch taking place against such a humongous American flag is like a USA chant at a Pride parade. If "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has morphed into "We're Cool, But Just Keep it on the QT," surely not everyone out there is so comfortable seeing Old Glory as a candy wrapper for this kind of lovin'.
Of course, there is also the fact these two men illustrate a position that would really raise some hackles if one of them was on his back.Perhaps the most provocative aspect of the photo, however, is the fact that it's the guy in uniform who presents as the more submissive, or what many would equate as the more "feminine" role. He's the one with the lei (not to be overlooked as a linguistic metaphor); he's the one with his legs spread; and he -- America's fighting man -- who is literally swept off his by the gay civilian. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm sure the photo would have created a stir either way ... but it wouldn't have had quite the same punch punch if the lei-less, broad shouldered man with his feet on the ground was the one in Ole' Uncle Sam's uniform.
(h/t: JU Desert. photo: Gay Marines/Facebook)