HONOLULU, Hawaii -- A Marine’s homecoming photo from a Hawaii base has gained worldwide attention -- two men kissing, just months after "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was repealed.
The picture has gone viral from Kaneohe, home of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
Sgt. Brandon Morgan returned Wednesday from a six-month deployment to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
There to meet him was his friend of four years, Windward Oahu artist Dalan Wells -- a friendship that had turned to a long-distance love during the deployment. This was their first kiss.
"We couldn't talk, I can barely talk now, his hands went numb, my legs were shaking, our first kiss after just knowing how we felt about each other,” Morgan said.
The arrival had come unexpectedly early. Wells made it to the base ahead of other invited friends.
"I’m so glad I got him a lei, I almost didn't have time,” Wells said. “I stopped at a Safeway, grabbed him just a carnation and pikake lei. One friend finally did make it, Dave Lewis and he's the one who took the photo there. He was able to get to the hangar just in time, because we were too happy to be able to take picture."
A picture they say they never intended to become recognized worldwide in just a few days.
“It's been overwhelming honestly,” Morgan said. “I didn't expect this. We didn't do it for the fame at all.”
It started when Morgan posted the photo to his own Facebook page.
“A friend asked can we post it on the Gay Marines Facebook page,” Wells said, “and we said, oh sure, there's only 1,000 people on that. It wasn't going to be a very big deal, but then everybody started sharing it. So then that turned into 415 shares the first day, then now it's in the thousands, now it's everywhere."
Tens of thousands have “liked” or shared the photo, thousands have commented.
“Most of the responses have been like oh my god I can't believe you're in love, congratulations,” Morgan said. “My mom's happy that I’m finally happy, my parents are ecstatic.”
Most comments so far are supportive and positive, others sharply negative.
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Brandon Morgan appears on MSNBC