For five months, Randy Phillips, 21-year-old soldier stationed at Ramstein Air Base Germany, and "100 percent closeted," anonymously chronicled his coming-out experience on YouTube.
For his first 16 videos, Phillips — aka AreYouSuprised, the pseudonym he used to launch for increasingly popular YouTube videos and Twitter feed — counted down the last days of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the 17-year-old policy that did not permit gays to serve openly in the U.S. military. A natural storyteller sharing his journey, Phillips' story has attracted more than 98,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, and more than 2 million video views.
The videos are filmed in a variety of settings — sometimes in front of a map, sometimes standing around what appears to be enormous military equipment — the camera is always focused from the neck down or just out of range of the young man's face. But in the 17th video — all that changes.
Posted on Tuesday — when DADT's repeal went into full effect — Phillips appears in the video sitting in an office chair in front of the now-familiar map, a good-looking kid with sandy blond hair pleasantly uncombed, looking straight at the camera and holding a cellphone. At this point everyone he serves with knows he's gay — just one more notification to make.There, live on tape, Phillips calls his dad in Alabama and tells him that he's gay.
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