Historic same-sex kiss marks return of HMCS Winnipeg to Victoria
Published Tuesday, February 23, 2016 2:02PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 24, 2016 10:05AM PST
The first kiss between a sailor and a loved one reuniting after months at sea has always been a celebrated tradition – but in Victoria, it has made history.
With cheers erupting from a crowd at CFB Esquimalt’s dockyard on Tuesday, Master Seaman Francis Legare stepped off HMCS Winnipeg into his partner Corey’s arms as they shared what is believed to be the first-ever “first kiss” between two men.
“It’s just unreal, it’s great. I’m just speechless right now,” said Legare, who had been at sea with his crewmates for 255 days.
Crew members all told CTV News there may have previously been a same-sex first kiss between two women, but this is the first time in Canada they’ve seen two men taking part in the tradition.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said HMCS Winnipeg's Commanding Officer Jeff Hutchinson. “The Canadian Armed Forces embraces people whatever their preferences are, and I think it’s great.”
Legare bought tickets for the raffle that determines which sailor gets to have the coveted first kiss – and won.
He said all of his shipmates were supportive about him and Corey getting the spotlight this time around.
“I just bought a ticket because all the money goes to charity, I wasn’t thinking I was going to win,” he said. “It just proves that the Navy is sending a strong message and we are supported, and it’s very great.”
Legare, who is originally from Quebec, said he and his partner will now relax for the 41 days he has off – and he’ll get back to cooking some authentic French cuisine.
Rear Admiral Gilles Couturier, Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific, said the Navy has had to evolve on the topic over the years to properly reflect society.
“We have to. We are a reflective society,” he said. “We do recruit across all of the spectrum of society, and if we don’t adapt, we won’t have any sailors joining.”
The ship returned home after participating in operations Caribbe, a multinational campaign against trafficking, and Reassurance, in which the crew took part in NATO-led joint exercises.
It also made headlines when three crew members were detained during a stop in Tokyo, Japan based on allegations of drug use.
Ian Greenwood, the son of retired Rear Admiral Richard Greenwood, faces a charge relating to drug use and remains in custody.
A civilian fitness instructor from the ship has also been charged with drug use.
Both were charged after Japanese police administered drug tests, but the charges have yet to be proven in a court of law.
A third Canadian, Jack Lawson, was taken into custody and subsequently released by police after a drug test.