Marine Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells say a photo of them kissing after Morgan returned from an overseas deployment could help struggling gay teens.

Morgan returned home from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan on Wednesday. He was met on the tarmac by his boyfriend of 4 years, Wells, an artist.

The photo received thousands of comments and likes after it was posted on the Gay Marines Facebook page. Most commenters left notes of encouragement.

“Welcome home Marine!” wrote one. “Thank you for your service! As a veteran of the U.S. Army it brings tears to my eyes to see you be able to express your love without fear. God bless you and your BF. May you have many more years together!”

Wells said he went along with making the picture public because it could inspired troubled gay teens to hang in there.

“I'm a very shy, private person,” Wells told Honolulu's KHON2 News. “So, the only reason I would even be doing something this crazy is because of that. And if this saves one kid who says, you know, 'Look at this guy. He went and joined the Marine Corp. His life is great.' Then, maybe, that will give them the courage to hang on, and make it another day.”

Morgan said he's been overwhelmed with the response.

“It's been overwhelming, honestly. I didn't expect this. We didn't do it for the fame at all.”

“It is a homecoming picture,” he said. “Gay, straight, lesbian no matter who you are, love is love.”

A spokesman for the Marine Corp Hawaii agreed, saying in a statement, “It's your typical homecoming photo.”

Morgan added that he's no hero: “I'm not a hero. The heroes are the ones that paved the way for me, to allow me to do this. It's people who fought in Congress and who fought to have equal rights who allowed me to even do this. They've always been my heroes. We haven't fought for more rights or better rights than others, we fought for equal rights, and now we have them.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)