“Dad, I’m gay.”
With those three emotion-drenched words, a 21-year-old U.S. soldier stationed in Germany reveals in a phone call to his father in Alabama what he had long kept secret but could now finally share with Tuesday’s official repeal of the military’s 17-year “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The soldier, who goes by the online moniker “areyousurprised,” captures himself on video telling his father something he says he’s “known since forever” but was afraid to share. He posted the video to YouTube, and it quickly went viral.
The soldier was among numerous U.S. military members who “came out” on Tuesday, guaranteed that they will no longer be punished or booted out of the service because of their sexual orientation.
The soldier doesn’t give his name, and in previous YouTube videos chronicling his experience as a gay man in the military is careful not to show his face. But in the latest video, titled “Telling my dad that I am gay,” he faces the camera directly, sitting in a room with a world map draped on a wall behind him.
The Washington Post identified him as Randy Phillips and said the video was recorded with his web camera in his bedroom at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
“Can I tell you something?” he asks.
“Yeah,” the father replies.
“Will you love me, serious?”
“Yes,” the father says.
The soldier explains that “I’ve known since forever” about his sexual orientation and has been aching to tell his family for a long time.
“I don’t know when’s the next time I would be able to see you. I didn’t want to do it over the phone. I wanted to tell you in person, but uh … I didn’t want you to find out in any other way.”
After a period of silence, the father says, “OK.”
And then came the reassurance.
“Will you still love me?” the soldier asks.
“I still love you, son. Yes, I still love you,” the father replies.
Viewers touched by the video posted multiple comments of praise and support.
“You are the epitome of honestly, integrity, and your good southern manners show through as well. Congrats on being your true self, and thank you for your continued service to our nation,” one person wrote, adding, “I am proud to call you a gay brother.”
“His father loves him unconditionally. How many times do you see this,” another wrote.
Other service members also came out in dramatic ways, and said they’re relieved to finally not have to hide their private lives from their straight colleagues while serving the country.