OAKDALE (CBS13) – It’s a homecoming with a twist when a Marine sergeant jumped into the waiting arms of his boyfriend and gave him a kiss that’s making headlines.
Brandon Morgan grew up in Oakdale before joining the Marines. Now his mother says because of the reaction to a picture of that kiss, her son’s safety is her main concern.
“I didn’t think of it any way — whether it be bad or good or whatever. It’s just like ‘Thank God he made it home safe,’” Angie Panelli told CBS13 in a phone interview.
Morgan, 25, was returning from Afghanistan when he jumped into the waiting arms of his boyfriend, Dalan Wells.
The military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian service members was officially repealed last September.
Morgan said he’s proud of the attention the photo has generated.
“Apparently this photo has been dubbed the kiss seen or heard ’round the world,” he said. “It’s breaking barriers. People feel more confident to live their own life and be truthful to who they know they are.”
Reaction in Oakdale was mixed.
“He’s definitely served our country so he deserves that right,” one woman said.
“I’m a Christian so I wouldn’t advocate it,” said another.
The picture has gone viral, with tens of thousands of hits and comments. Reaction ranges from encouraging to cruel.
Angie appreciates the support but is concerned about backlash.
“You got people out there that are so full of hatred that,” she said. “That’s what scares me and my husband the most is we don’t want him to get hurt because of all this.”
Angie describes her son as brave with a big heart, and reminds the people she calls “the haters” that her son is fighting for freedom.
People have the right to say what they want, she said. She just wants them to think about what they say.
“I think he’s compassionate, loving and caring and any mother would be happy to have a son like that.