A Florida news station says they were bombarded with phone calls and emails from angry viewers objecting to their decision to broadcast a same-sex kiss between a US Navy sailor and his husband.
Last week, News4Jax, a local TV station in Jacksonville, reported on sailor Kenneth Woodington, who won a charity raffle to get the ceremonial “first kiss” upon disembarking USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) after returning home from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East and Europe.
“I was excited and I could not wait for it to happen,” Bryan Woodington said. “I knew I was going to dip him.”
“When he got off the ship, I lost all control, I just dropped everything and I just ran,” Kenneth said.
News4Jax published a followup story on Thursday sharing letters and phone calls they received from viewers after broadcasting the sailor’s story.
“How sad that your station has dropped to such a low as to show a gay couple kissing on your newscast,” one viewer said.
“I thought this was a ‘family friendly’ news channel,” another wrote.
“I’ll never watch your news again!!!! So long, News4Jax,” another person declared.
The couple shrugged off the negative responses.
“Honestly, I’m the type of person who doesn’t really care that much about what people say,” Kenneth told News4Jax.
“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,’” Bryan adds.
The photo quickly went viral after it was shared on Naval Station Mayport’s page, where it received mostly positive responses.
“Times have changed when a gay sailor can welcome home his partner without fear,” one person wrote. “Welcome home. Life is short love whoever you want to love!”
“I’m not gay and this doesn’t offend me one damn bit,” another person wrote. “Why should it? Love is love for goodness sake!”
“A new twist on an old favorite!” a third person commented. “Love it!”
Some mocked the angry messages that flooded the news station.
“This makes me sick to my stomach,” one person joked. “White shoes after Labor Day!?”
“This is disgusting,” another wrote. “The weather should be ashamed of itself looking all gloomy.”
“Dammit, this is exactly what I warned you about, running off and joining the Navy!” a third person added.