Yesterday two women kissed in what may become the most iconic real embrace in women’s maritime history. It’s been downplayed, it wasn’t a show, but it’s been photographed for posterity and shared with the world by Associated Press. You can even see it on video.
This real kiss compares interestingly to a spoof one posed by models ten years ago. It’s a pastiche of the famous V-J Day 1945 kiss shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt (see this blog, 15.2.2010). To me a decade ago the embrace felt very very far from what could happen in reality. Now it’s not.
And that progress merits celebration. I can see why the US navy is downplaying it. There must be anxiety that it shouldn’t be fetishised or trivialised. And certainly human beings’ right to embrace should indeed be taken for granted. But actually this a significant and serious step forward.
Journalist Brock Vergakis reports that ‘A Navy tradition caught up with the repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule on Wednesday [Dec 21] when two women sailors became the first to share the coveted “first kiss” on the pier after one of them returned from 80 days at sea.
‘Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif.,[left] descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss in the rain with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, [based on the USS Bainbridge, the guided missile destroyer] Gaeta, 23, wore her Navy dress uniform while Snell, 22, wore a black leather jacket, scarf and blue jeans.
‘For the historical significance of the kiss, there was little to differentiate it from countless others when a Navy ship pulls into its home port following a deployment. Neither the Navy nor the couple tried to draw attention to what was happening and many onlookers waiting for their loved ones to come off the ship were busy talking among themselves.
‘David Bauer, the commanding officer of the USS Oak Hill, said that Gaeta and Snell’s kiss would largely be a non-event and the crew’s reaction upon learning who was selected to have the first kiss was positive.
‘”It’s going to happen and the crew’s going to enjoy it. We’re going to move on and it won’t overshadow the great things that this crew has accomplished over the past three months,” Bauer said.