Sydney Denault ’13
Seventeen years ago in 1993, the policy not allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the United States military, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, was signed by then-President Bill Clinton. During the time in which this policy was in effect, gays who were discovered or came out during service were discharged from the military. Although the intentions of the policy were supposed to be positive because they were supposed to prohibit military personnel from discriminating against gays serving in the military, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” developed into a policy preventing gays from talking about their sexual orientation or any homosexual relationships they had. It forced gays to serve in secret and in constant fear of harassment and discovery. On December 22, 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, which officially ended earlier this month on September 20, 2011. This repeal has brought much happiness and relief to those who were forced to serve our country closeted. Although many coming out while in the military stories are beginning to be shared, one seems to have already touched the hearts of many over the past few months, and that would be the story of Randy Phillips.
Randy Phillips, 21, who is stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, has been sharing his coming-out on YouTube and Twitter, under the pseudonym AreYouSurprised, for the past five months. His seventeen YouTube videos, which have over two million views and more than 98,000 subscribers, documented Phillips coming out to his fellow service men and have been counting down the last days of DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) since last April. One particular video shows Phillips and another military passenger joking around while driving in a Jeep. While in conversation, Randy Phillips blurts out “I’m gay”, and much to his surprise, his passenger replies, “I could give a rat’s ass. Hey, love is love…”.
AreYouSurprised has been careful not to reveal his identity in his videos by never showing his face and always filming from the neck down. By his last video, everyone who he has been serving knows he is gay, and the only person left to tell is his father. In video number seventeen, filmed when the DADT repeal went into full effect, and by far his most emotional video, Phillips calls his father and nervously comes out to him. The response is muffled by the static on the other end of the phone call, but much to his relief, Phillips’ father responds saying that this “doesn’t change our relationship”, “I will always be proud of you” and “I will always love you”. The video, which is one of the most viewed videos right now on YouTube, is posted on the page for the It Gets Better Project, an organization dedicated to making videos to give hope to LGBT teens who have been victims of bullying, and is also available below for Hawks Claw readers to watch.