Last April, four months after President Barack Obama signed the bill getting rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, an anonymous solider started putting videos on YouTube. The presentations were shot from the neck down, and the reason for them was simple: Randy Phillips wanted to tell family, friends, and colleagues who he was.
'The whole point of this video is to come out. That’s even hard to say,' Phillips said in that very first video.
The 21 year old soldier gave hints about where he was from — the Bible Belt of the United States — and where he was deployed (a 'hot and sandy' country). He spoke to The Daily Dot, explaining his new status as an Internet sensation.
'I was just nervous, [I had] personal fear, and fear of rejection from my friends and family,' Phillips said. 'I was even nervous of saying the words ‘I’m gay’ period.'
Initially Phillips' work was under the radar, not getting that much attention. He earned a traffic hit last August, and in September, when DADT was officially gone, he showed his face. He also videotaped phone calls to his parents telling them about his sexuality.
Those interactions earned a lot of attention, but Phillips also came under some criticism because he didn't ask his parents if he could tape the conversations.
Phillips might be famous online, but he's still a soldier (airman actually). So he stays away from the risque and anything overtly political.