The video begins with soldier asking his father, "You promise you'll always love me? Period?" Then, with phone in hand, he says, "Dad, I'm gay. I always have been. I've known for … forever."
This is the latest viral hit in a series that began about five months ago when the same soldier - then anonymous - started posting videos on YouTube about his experience of being gay in the military and about his plan to come out. The first plainly declared “I’m gay”.
On his own YouTube Channel titled “AreYouSuprised” he lets the world know his story about being gay in the U.S. military in the last days of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell era. He doesn’t show his face, because technically he could have been discharged from the military even though the policy was set to expire. He tells the whole internet he’s gay before any person that he actually knows.
His video journey runs the gamut of emotions from fear to guilt, joy, acceptance, anxiety and everything in between.
Watching these video posts in sequence, you see how uncomfortable he is even with the idea of being gay and the surprise he experiences from the positive response and support he gets from strangers on the Internet. He tells the story of finally admitting to himself that he is gay and sets goals for coming out slowly to his friends family and co-workers. His express purpose of making this internet channel was to gather support and encouragement in his personal affirmation.
The first few videos are posted from his deployment in Germany before he has told anyone. He describes his hopes about what the end of DADT means for him and the military in a really down to earth way. Interesting to watch is his description of the training he and other service member receive in preparation for the repeal of DADT; he sounds discouraged from the answers he received and the ambiguity in the policy. He documents coming out to one of his buddies, while deployed in Saudi Arabia. It's heartwarming to see his amazement in how well his friend reacted. A few months ago, not having anything really to say for a few weeks to his channel's subscribers he instead posted a video of a military performance group, doing a version of Rolling in the Deep by Adele. This video went viral overnight (it's a pretty amazing cover if you ask me) and by the time he woke up in the morning the soldiers he served along side of were watching the performance on his YouTube channel. Seeing that other videos were posted in the side bar, they watched his video diary and everything after that in his words was “really great."
The video chain ends on Tuesday September 20th when he finally shows his face to the camera. He does not talk to the viewer too much in this video; instead you watch as he calls his father and tells him that he is gay for the first time. This video gained over 1.8 million plays in just over a day and Randy Phillips' channel - that's right we now know his name - has had a over 4.2 million views altogether. This whole story, told through the eyes of a closeted solider, epitomizes the sentiments of America’s service members and their views on the repeal of DADT. The story has so much more depth than I can translate into text and I fail in relaying the raw emotion you can find in his video journey, you'll just have to watch them to see what I mean.
But here's a little spoiler. The conversation ends with his father saying: "I still love you son. It doesn't change our relationship -- and I always will. No matter what. Alright? You are my son, and I am very proud of you."