The station was hit with many letters disapproving of the "welcome home" smooch.
It's a scene San Diegans are familiar with; reunited service members disembarking from their ships after a lengthy tour and giving their loved ones waiting on the dock a passionate smooch. In fact, a statue which mimics the now-famous photograph of a returning World War II sailor kissing a nurse known as "Unconditional Surrender" stands 25-ft. tall over the Port of San Diego.
It was that iconic pose and photo that sparked somewhat of a stir in Florida last week as a gay sailor won the chance to have the "first kiss," returning from a seven-month tour aboard the USS The Sullivans.
Sailor Kenneth Woodington won, sweeping husband Bryan off his feet. Of course, the whole thing was televised on News4Jax in Jacksonville.
However, not everyone was able to see past the same-sex liplock and promptly took the station to task according to Queerty.
People called in and sent letters that expressed just how much the "first kiss" should not have been by a gay couple.
One viewer wrote, “How sad that your station has dropped to such a low as to show a gay couple kissing on your newscast."
Another insinuated the kiss was not appropriate for kids, “I thought this was a ‘family friendly’ news channel,” they wrote.
Someone else vowed to never watch their broadcast again, “So long, News4Jax."
The couple was then asked how they felt about the negative criticism. “Honestly, I’m the type of person who doesn’t really care that much about what people say,” said Kenneth.
Bryan adds, “My grandmother always taught me, she said, ‘You know some people have a different life and this is how they are and you just have to treat them as such, and treat them with kindness and respect.'"
Social media readers seemed to have a different attitude toward the story. A snapshot of the kiss was shared on the Navy Station Mayport Facebook page.
“Times have changed when a gay sailor can welcome home his partner without fear,” wrote one. “Welcome home. Life is short love whoever you want to love!”
An ally said they weren't offended by it, “Why should it? Love is love for goodness sake!”
Another even pointed out just how much times have changed, “A new twist on an old favorite! Love it!”
San Diego welcomes their sailors home at different times throughout the year and celebrates them even further in October during Fleet Week.
Earlier this year San Diego’s own Brian L. Alvarado and his husband Matthew were guests on the "Ellen" show to celebrate Brian’s title as the 2018 Armed Forces Insurance Navy Spouse of the Year.