29 December 2011

Happy New Year!

This image from 2011 resonates with me in a year full of moments to remember. Marriage equality came to New York, I got engaged, Prop 8 continued through the courts, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was tossed.

This kiss, shared by two Navy officers just after the ship behind them came into port, reflects the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It's now legal for military personnel to be honest about who they are, and who they love.

But it also says alot more. This could have been a technical victory. But this photo proves the country was ready for it. It says so much more about military’s acceptance of gays (long debated this year), so much more about Americans’ personal feelings.

There is a tradition of a “first kiss” as a Navy ship returns to port. The honor is voted on by everyone on the ship, and based on this vote, is officially awarded to one person. It’s a moment that is arranged and staged; it’s not spontaneous in any way.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta’s shipmates voted for her to have the first kiss with her girlfriend of two years, Citlalic Snell. Snell is also a Navy officer.

Gaeta’s ship had been at sea for 80 days. There were surely many straight sailors who had wives waiting, not to mention girlfriends. Everyone feels that they deserve it. On top of that, we've been told that the military types just weren't ready for this; they would rebel, feel at risk, lose confidence in their gay colleagues.

And yet, all those horny sailors voted for Marissa to have the love, and the spotlight. Imagine that.

We did pretty well this year. All the best for 2012!

-Maura McGurk

Maura makes artwork about issues related to the LGBT/queer/gay experience, especially gay bullying. Take a stand against gay bullying by checking out her work, liking it on Facebook, or commenting on her blog.


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