Two women's first kiss at homecoming a first for Navy, too


It's Wednesday morning around 10:30 when the Oak Hill finally comes into view, its steel-gray bow peeking out from behind a grove of green trees at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.

It's been three months since the dock landing ship left home for Central America, and all of the usual fanfare is waiting to greet its crew: crowds of cheering families, toddlers dressed in sailor suits, and the lucky, excited woman who's been chosen to take part in a time-honored Navy tradition - the first homecoming kiss.

In this case, that woman is 22-year-old Citlalic Snell. She's a sailor herself, assigned to the destroyer Bainbridge, but today she's in civilian clothes - jeans, boots and a stylish leather jacket. Watching pierside as the Oak Hill pulls into port, she absentmindedly twists the small diamond ring on her left hand.

A uniformed liaison who is with her explains how it's going to work: Snell's sailor will be among the first off the ship, and when it's time, Snell will be escorted onto the pier for the kiss.

The liaison asks whether she's nervous.

"Sort of," Snell admits.

As it starts to drizzle, the brow is finally lowered. A handful of top officers are first off the ship, and then comes a young woman in dress blues, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta.

Snell cracks a wide smile.

"That's her," she says.

When Gaeta spots her, she smiles, too. They embrace. With all eyes watching, they keep the kiss short, and the crowd cheers.

As the rest of the crew begins to file off the ship, Gaeta and Snell slip away for a few moments alone before speaking to a group of news reporters.

They say they're both a little embarrassed by all the attention, but they understand it.

"It's a big deal," Gaeta says. "It's been a long time coming."

They explain that they've been dating for a little over two years, about as long as they've been in the Navy. They met right after boot camp. They were roommates at their first training school, where they both became fire controlmen.

Until September, when the military's ban on openly gay service was lifted, they worked hard to keep their relationship secret. When Snell came home from her last deployment in August, kissing on the pier wasn't an option.

"This is the first time we can actually show who we are," she says.

Adds Gaeta, "It's nice to be able to be myself."

While she says she already considers Snell her wife, they're planning for a wedding down the road.

And how were they chosen for the first kiss?

As is usually the case, it was decided in a raffle. Gaeta bought 50 tickets at a dollar apiece. While she suspects her division might have bought a few more on her behalf, she says she knows of sailors who bought more than a hundred, so she was surprised to learn Monday that one of hers had been drawn as the winner.

Snell looks at Gaeta and shrugs.

"I think it was meant to be," she says.

Corinne Reilly, (757) 446-2949, corinne.reilly@pilotonline.com

Posted to: Military Virginia Beach

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Pictures please.

Pictures please.

Um, thanks...better than

Um, thanks...better than expected. ( ^:



Hey Delores, nice to see

Hey Delores, nice to see ya'll banning plastic bags in deference to the Puget sound, nice to be responding to a city who is a forerunner in bicycling. Wish some of that progressive ideology would rub off on Tidewater.


an honest man:)


why is this news?

It is news

Because this is the press doing its job. I am very sure you wouldnt be complaining if it was the usual picture of a returning man kissing his loved ones.

From the article:

When Snell came home from her last deployment in August, kissing on the pier wasn’t an option.

“This is the first time we can actually show who we are,” Snell says.

Adds Gaeta, "It's nice to be able to be myself."

I thought the Pilot's new

I thought the Pilot's new posting rules (verified users only) applied to editorials and letters. What's the matter, don't you trust us anymore ?

Same thought here...

has to in anticipation of the likely negative comments.

We choose the setting we think is most likely...

To foster a civil yet lively debate. In this case, we thought anonymous comments were likely to spark a flame war that would discourage many others from joining the debate. Would love to hear others' thoughts.

Meredith Kruse

Military Editor

I agree

there are many that would use hate to state their displeasure at the repeal of DADT.

Now that this is over (the first same-sex kiss) maybe the sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen can get back to serving their nation without the press or haters watching every move.

I have no opinion either way on this issue

I am concerned that the VP uses this issue to foster "civil yet lively debate". Why? My view is that the VP specifically looked to chill any debate. It's curious that for any other issue that is not a response to the LTE, anonymous commentary is the only way to post. I'm not buying the rational you provided. It appears to me you sought only favorable commentary and no dissension. As someone else posted, move along folks, nothing to see here.

Alan, perhaps I wasn't clear...

For ANY story, we choose the setting that we think is most conducive to a civil,lively debate. That is not unique to this story. And, as with most other news web sites, the handling of comments - anonymous or not - is an evolving issue.

It sounds like you are implying that those who disagree with the new policy on gays serving openly are incapable of participating in that debate unless they're anonymous. I think that the comments on this thread show that's not the case. And I'd like to thank everyone who has participated, on all sides, because I think you've shown the value of a forum such as this.

Meredith Kruse

Military Editor

Ms Kruse Unless he has

Ms Kruse
Unless he has had a changed of heart, he was one of the biggest supporters of the ban on gays.

You chose well!

Having this require name and town stopped those who troll sites and from making disparaging comments seemingly for the sake of doing so.

I'd safely wager the photographer will be in the running for a Pulitzer.

Kruse Military Editor,


Military Editor, hierher Moderator.

Sounds like a put-up job

Time honored tradition? I returned from 5 deployments and never once heard of this 'tradition'.

You Missed Out

Every deployment my husband made had a 1st Kiss Raffle. In addition, most of the squadrons had raffles for an Early Return and the winner would get to fly in with the air wing a couple days before the ship pulled in. It was always a big deal to see who won these special treats!! Sorry to hear you never had the opportunity to participate such a great tradition.


Just weird that I never heard of one before I retired.


Through out every war since cameras were invented the returning "kiss" has been in the media. Only someone living in a cave wouldnt know that.

Why so snippy and insulting?

While the 'return kiss' has been in the media for decades the 'tradition' of a raffle is new to me. Having spent twenty years in the Navy I was surprised to be informed of a 'tradition' that I had never heard of or seen.


You and your boyfriend have been missing out :)

Photo of Kissing

Well, I can say that the times sure have changed since my day. I may not agree with some things, BUT this is still the USA, and last time I checked, we were still free. If it doesn't bother me or my family, I say let sleeping dogs lay. It's called freedom of choice.


Sexual ID isnt a choice. Unless you feel you can change your sexual ID anytime you want? Can you?

Ms Lewis; I think you may

Ms Lewis;

I think you may have read something into my comment which wasn't there.
I say exactly what I mean and nothing more. I am not politically correct, never have, never will. I still say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" because that was the way I was raised and what I was taught.
Thank You for you comment,but please don't read something into it.
By the way, "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!"

And happy holidays

to you sir. I didn't read anything into your comment. Thanks for your treatment of Americans being American. That is all any of us want

Re: Reply

Thank You Sir for your comment. U are indeed a Gentleman,"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" to U and yours..


Happy Holidays to you to.
You used the word choice in your post.
I like you say what I mean.
If you would like to clear up what you meant by "choice" I am all ears.

All you scared people

who voted thumbs down to my post on "choice" need to grow up.
Sexual ID isnt a choice.
If it was then you people who voted thumbs down are admitting that you can choose to be gay. Think about that for a few minutes.

Show some courage and post an explanation of your bigotry and hatred.


As a gay man I find nothing sinister or discriminatory with Corbin's post. I really believe you are making something out of nothing. If he did mean choice than even more power to him because he essentially says move on, this is aAmerica and choice is an option and part of our freedom. You know and I know sexuality isn't a choice, but even if he does he still believes we should have equality.

Calm down, we have bigger enemies out there. Corbin, I believe, is counted as an ally. Let us embrace his support, not bully him into hating us.

You got "comment of the day"

You got "comment of the day" on the main web page. Well deserved.

Simply marvelous

having spent 21 years in the usn, and experienced many a pierside kiss, this gave me a grin. knowing how shipmates can "stack the deck" for you in raffles like this, i suspect the navy has matured....
what i read here is a delightful homecoming story, made all the more special for these two. how wonderful.

Anti Freedom and equality

haters come out of their holes when they get scared.

This Is a GREAt Day for Equality and Freedom

I can really understand how Michelle Obama felt when she said: "For the First Time I'm Proud of my Country."

For the First Time I'm Proud of the Armed Forces.

Let Freedom Ring!

I'm hoping soon America can address the issues of Lesbian / Gay Marriage.

"For the First Time I'm

"For the First Time I'm Proud of the Armed Forces."

After everything that our military has done for this country, it took a lesbian couple kissing to make you proud of the military? Geeeze.....


we should be proud of our military. It was the ignorance of politicians, especially those in Congress, that caused the discrimination. They are the people who should be reviled, not our proud and honorable armed forces.

This is not the place for this debate

Some people will just never get it and some aren't capable of getting it. For the rest of us there are people like George Carlin and Bill Maher to help keep us sane.

Lesbian couple's kiss

Now we have seen it live, proud sailors who are not unsecured because of their sexuality. I'm sure they are as good sailor's as their straight co-workers. Now let's see when first male couple greet each other same way at the pierside...

A First Kiss!

How exciting! I registered and became a verified user just so I could comment on this historic occasion. As a former sailor, and a heterosexual man, I am pleased to see the Navy recognizing such a basic reality of life and honoring this expression of love between two people who have been separated by their service to our country.

I am truly sorry for those of you who cannot accept reality and, especially, for those who feel it necessary to show your animosity toward what may not be the "norm", but which is surely quite normal. Your fear poisons you to the truth.

Thank you

I signed up, got verified just so I could say...

Thank you Hampton Roads for running this story. It means a lot to me and everyone who is fighting to have the same silly rights just like this. What a happy moment!

The important rights are, well, important too but so are the silly everyday rights people take for granted like kissing the one you love when they come home.

Great story

Great story

All I can say is.....

If you find someone to love you in this world, better hold on tight.

I'd be more concerned with the nutcases who spray-painted the Norfolk High School, Maury High School I think it was, a day or two ago.....

Now THAT'S a person who certainly didn't get enough hugs, these two, I couldn't care less about-none of my business.

Although I must admit, it was rather arousing.....

oooh, bad, Santa!


There is enough evil and hate in this world. If two people want to love each other, more power to them. Yes, hold on tight.


It's a fundamental right, granted by the constitution, to freely express yourself. No one, and I mean NO ONE can take that away from you.

FREEDOM - The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Looks more like the definition of anarchy

Also, the Constitution recognizes that the military is a special case and makes provisions for s different set of rules for them.

Are we that sure this is

Are we that sure this is progress? We (collectively) seem pretty sure that we're moving in the right direction toward 'freedom' and against discrimination, but does that mean that our grandparents and their grandparents who passed their traditions down to us were completely confused about what was 'normal' sexual behavior?

This is not normal, and we all know it. We might as well admit it.

It's a conspiracy brought on by people who run sperm banks.

you may not be sure this is progess, but I am

You ask if our grandparents and their grandparents who passed their traditions down to us were completely confused....let me ask you this...so you believe that another person can or should be owned by you or someone else? Do you think the world is flat? Do you believe the sun revolves around the earth? Because if you answer no to any of those 3 questions...then yes....your grandparents and their grandparents who passed their traditions down to us WERE completely confused AS were Abraham Lincolns parents and Chistopher Columbus's parents and Galileo's parents. HISTORY my dear....learn it.

One last thing...I don't thing there were sperm banks in Galilieo's time...just sayin

Yes Katherine our grandparents were wrong

Condemnation of homosexual acts (and other nonprocreative sexual behavior) as "unnatural .... In 1986, the diagnosis was removed entirely from the DSM. The American psychiatric community has spoken and almost 20 years ago. Gays are not mentally ill and it's a scientific fact. So stop trying to think that we all are in some kind of trance. You seem to be holding-on to the beliefs of your grandparents and their grandparents. They believed that blacks were not equal to whites. They believed that women were not equal to men. They also believed that the Nazis were not dangerous and delayed entering WWII by two years. I could go on-and-on about how many things our grandparent and their grandparents got wrong. I suggest you do some research before you make statements like "this is not normal and we all know it." The fact is it is normal and it has been around since the dawn of man. There is archeological and historical evidence to that fact. All these facts, science, and doctors you choose to ignore. I can only guess that you choose to ignore the facts because there is something within yourself that you fear.

Doesn't hurt the PR that

Doesn't hurt the PR that they are a couple of lookers.

Always preferred brunettes my"self". Just gave away ny nom de plume.

Thumbing my nose at the Pilot posting rules and all their deletions.


The only thing that really has me wondering is that they just happen to get selected from a "random" lottery for it and then there is so much news coverage. Heck it even went to the national news that night. Random luck of the draw lottery?? Im kinda suspicious....


I thought the picture on page 5 of the paper, of the little girl running to her Father to be a better picture for the front page then the two girls kissing. To me that is just so wrong. Thank god I am retired from the Navy and do not have to put up with this daily.

Scott I think you have an issue

with your sexual ID..
For 25 years UofGa researcher­s have recruited the most homophobic men on campus to watch gay porn while blood pressure cuffs record their arousal. Consistent­ly the phobes are aroused, while gay-friend­ly men aren't. Loud anti-gay behavior is actually the surest confession of homosexual impulses.

I Wonder Though. . . .

Would the public reaction have been different if the picture was of two gay men kissing?


Thank You, Commander-in-Chief Obama, for making this memorable event for all the world to see! Next, an Admiral, a Captain, the XO, et. al. outdoing the Village People doing the YMCA pierside.


Now that would be worth watching!



Ernesto thou doth protest to much.............

For 25 years U of Ga researcher­s have recruited the most homophobic men on campus to watch gay porn while blood pressure cuffs record their arousal. Consistent­ly the phobes are aroused, while gay-friend­ly men aren't. Loud anti-gay behavior is actually the surest confession of homosexual impulses.

Not reality

The thing that bothers me above all else is that this was not a spontaneous event. It was choreographed and directed. This is not photo journalism. This was not a couple being caught embracing and kissing after a long deployment. This was a lesbian couple being used for political purposes.

Did you read the story?

Did you not notice this is a tradition, that the raffle was held? The VP is always dockside, as are many of our TV stations, when ships return. So this is never 'spontaneous' in the way you meant. As a matter of fact, spontaneous can never apply to tradition. And they were kissing and embracing after a deployment.

Did you also read that not only the "star"

of this dock side photo op bought 50 raffle tickets but many others also did . I'll bet that the majority of those who bought tickets purchased them just to up the chances of these participants being the "winners". There is no doubt in my mind that this was all staged by the ships crew,(with a good portion of them getting involved just for the sake of making the news and getting their ship 15 minutes of fame), and the VP and media. How often do ships on a little 90 day float to South America get this kind of attention? Whats next to look forward to? Two men? I'm sure to be Politically Correct someone of the opposite sex will be demanding their 15 minutes of fame also. If this is how this couples reunion needed to be made public I find it deplorable. And if they felt they needed to come out of the closet in this manner, after don't ask don't tell has been repealed, shame on them. Especially at this Christmas season I'm sure that there was probably at least one conventional family including children, that could have made a nice front page photo. Their story (the two women) could had been in print in the article however I believe this was all done for the "shock value" the way the VP presented it.

It isn't an appropriate photo!

I don't want to open my morning newspaper or turn on my TV and see ANY COUPLE sucking face! It doesn't matter if it is a man and a woman, two males or two females! Good grief, what has become of the world? So glad my children are grown and I don't have to censor the news. It is just wrong!

As are

many of the heterosexual couples kissing on the dock. Yes they are setup for the best picture too.
Are you people really that ignorant?


This is not about "freedom" or "equality" or any of the other cover words being used. This is about the media (VA Pilot and others) trying to advance the liberal agenda. Agree or disagree with the repeal of the military's "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy, this should be a non-issue. After all, weren't we told that the gay and lesbian community just wanted to be treated like everyone else?

OK, policy repealed. Why then is it a big deal that this couple has a first kiss on the pier (agree it was staged)? Does the pilot run a story on every first kiss from every returning ship? No, but we have to have this glorified when it should be just another kiss on the pier.

"liberal agenda" followed by: "just another kiss on the pier"

"liberal agenda" followed by: "just another kiss on the pier"

Boy, the conservative agenda is certainly changing rapidly

I see that one

went right over your head.

look up, Michael

Look up!


you stop glorifying heterosexuality then we can talk.
You are a bigot. Man up an just admit it.

History was made yesterday

History was made yesterday, and it all happened right here in Hampton Roads.

Thank you ladies for serving and protecting our country as well as fighting for the rights of us all even those who will never be supportive of your lifestyle.

While most comments have been positive, there will always be those so filled with hate they just can't stand the idea of "gay anything".

Thanks again, welcome home, and have a wonderful Holiday.

Speaking of History,

History was also made thousands of years ago in Sodom and Gomorrah. Could this be history repeating itself? This has nothing at all to do with hate, just like you said "this is history in the making".
Time to go back to school. No matter how many degrees you have you evidently never went to Sunday school. Thats where some of us "unenlightened" get our direction of what was in the original plan for men and women. Why is it right for you to hold your opinions of what is accepted or unaccepted behaviour as factual and our opinions as fictional? I believe that there was a Sodom and Gomorrah just like I believe there is a Norfolk. You can find all these cities in books of History. Like you, I can also see History being made right here in Norfolk, just from a diffrent perspective then how you see it.

Bible is

not accurate.
The bible was written after the so called Jesus. The Jesus legend was stolen from the pagans. Yes that is right. Stolen from the pagans. Jesus never existed. There is not one bit of evidence that he did.
But had he existed he would have been black, gay, and liberal.
Chew on that for awhile.

Can't believe the Bible but...................

We can all believe Dolores from Portland OR. FYI the story I'm talking about is Old Testament. Thousands of years before Jesus, which is a historical fact that there was a man named Jesus even if you don't believe he was the Saviour. You probably can't believe there was ever a Herrod, Nero, Cezar, Ramsee, Pilot, Marx, Lenin, Hitler, etc............
How about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Cookie monster? Real or Not? But then again, why show your statement surprise anyone. Oregon, thats over there on the Left Coast ain't it?

god loves me

God loves me, those girls and everyone else just as much as he loves you. See...I did go to Sunday school.

Try to find some peace and love in your heart for others....it's a wonderful feeling.


With all of the publicity for a simple Moral, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) lottery displayed on the front page of a National newspaper, someone with a lot of stars on their shoulder boards are going to ask the question... "I thought raffles are illegal in the navy"? They won't care who is kissing who rather than 'axe' the question "Are raffles legal"?

For the record there will be a senior JAG Officer looking into this just to be safe and possibly save the Navy from any future negative leadership. Meanwhile, future MWR raffles will be scrutinized and questioned by every level of the chain of command until someone says it just isn't worth it!! Then no one will be able to have a first kiss or any other positive aspect towards time honored traditions after deploying honorably.

We have shunned XO movie night, and now we will shun kisses on the pier.... Thanks Pilot!

Love thy neighbor

The greatest Commandment is to "love thy neighbor"

Those whose hearts are filled with hatred should look to Jesus who lived his life based on unconditional love for everyone, even those who are blinded by their own hatred and self loathing.

Merry Christmas and thank you to ALL the women and men who serve our country.

Tell me why ...

"While she suspects her division might have bought a few more on her behalf" - So if the men and women who serve with this brave sailor are supporting her, tell me why the rest of us shouldn't.

Beautiful Kiss

A Kiss is Just a Kiss . . .


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