On the day that the US military’s anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy officially ended last fall, Airman Randy Phillips decided to come out to his father – live on YouTube.
Their conversation went viral and has been viewed by nearly 6 million people. Phillip’s father took it well and assured his nervous son that he would always love him and that he was ‘very proud’ of him. (See second video below)
Phillips is using his newfound internet fame for a good cause: He is one of 2,225 riders participating in this week’s AIDS/Lifecycle, a 545-mile bike ride that is the world’s most successful HIV/AIDS fundraiser.
‘I kind of wanted to parlay what little attention I got from YouTube into something that I think is taboo for our generation,’ he says in a video taken during a break from riding. ‘Not very many people [in their] early 20s like to think about AIDS. It’s such our parent’s generation. We kind of like to think we have it under control. But we don’t. It’s still very big and it shouldn’t be taboo. It should be something we talk about and discuss and fund raise for and try to fight.’
While on the ride, Phillips met a 24-year-old fellow rider who is HIV-positive.
‘AIDS doesn’t have a face,’ he says. ‘It doesn’t have an age, it doesn’t have a demographic. It can happen to anybody.’