A kiss is still a kiss—but what a kiss it was! When a female naval officer smooched her fiancee during a military homecoming ritual, it indelibly marked the true and final end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The victories of the past year seemed to come fast and furious: New York finally legalizing same-sex marriage along with Maryland and Washington State; Chaz Bono busting a move as Dancing with the Stars’ first transgender contestant; the snowballing Occupy Wall Street movement demanding justice for the hardworking 99 percent. Even great tragedy, and the still-raw memories of America’s worst terrorist attack, failed to slow the rekindling of our optimism. (And if you want more proof, see GO’s landmark Tenth Anniversary issue this September!)
The loathsome “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy was finally abolished in September, nine months after President Obama signed legislation that would allow openly gay personnel to serve in the armed forces. Some gay and lesbian service members couldn’t wait to say ‘sayonara’ to DADT’s draconian restrictions. In December, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta was the first to kiss her fiancée, Fire Controlman 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, in a U.S. Navy homecoming ceremony in Virginia Beach, VA. In Navy tradition, one sailor is chosen by raffle to be the first off the ship to kiss a loved one—and Gaeta’s and Snell’s was the first same-sex smooch in military history.