Back in April a soldier, who grew up in the Bible Belt, is stationed in Europe, but has been deployed to the Middle East, bravely posted a video the would begin the chronicling of his coming out journey. Now after 11 videos, the 21-year-old fearful story is captivating YouTube, and giving the world an unprecedented glimpse into the effects of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Every so often the soldier, who hides his face because it is still illegal for gays to be out in the military (the DADT repeal is still going through a lengthy process that should be resolved by the end of September), will post videos updating his audience (at over 283,000 views and counting) on the progress of his coming out. Up until a July 7th video that featured him coming out to a co-worker in the military, he hadn’t come out to anyone, including his parents, his family and his girlfriend.
All of this of course begs the question, why is he doing this on YouTube? Just for the fame? He addresses this in one of his videos, saying that the YouTube community is typically more supportive and its the many positive comments that’s he’s gotten that is spurring him forward and building his strength to finally come out.
My first question was, how has he not yet been discovered? In a world of hackers and IP addresses, I’m surprised he hasn’t been outed by some blogger, or even by a fellow service member who’s seen him online. He also addresses this issue in one of his videos, saying subconsciously he hopes he is outed, which might somehow make it all easier. Now that the gay blogosphere has picked up the story this may become a reality. I just really hope this isn’t another hoax like A Girl in Damascus.
Though I really don’t think it is a hoax. His raw emotions, Southern child-like voice and slightly juvenile demeanor give of a sense of pure naivete. He doesn’t sound like an experienced orator (the ever present ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’ and constant apologies for gasps in time between videos) and he posses a boy-next-door charm that’s undeniable. Even on his Twitter page he show’s his age, posting photos of his abs and discussing his workout regimen. He definitely comes off as your typical 21-year-old male with typical 21-year-old male obsessions.
I think what this soldier is doing is not only truly phenomenal, but revolutionary. I don’t think anything like this has ever been done and it’s putting so much perspective on a policy civilians can’t truly understand. Many like to throw around their opinions on DADT and gays serving in the military, especially those who have never served. I hope this opens a few eyes and I know it’s going to give so many other closeted soldiers hope for their situations.
Check out all the “faceless soldier’s” videos at his YouTube channel called Are You Surprised and you can also follow him on his Twitter page (@areyousurprised). Below are a few my favorite videos from his channel.
The first is one of his latest videos where he discusses if he should come out to a homophobic soldier in his unit.
The second is one of his most popular videos, which, as I mentioned above, features him coming out to a friend in his unit.
And lastly, this is my top favorite video of his thus far. It gives a rare glimpse into those DADT Repeal Military Trainings we’ve been hearing so much about.