YouTube has been a hotbed of coming-out activity of late. Many video makers, military and civilian, point to Randy Phillips, 21, an airman stationed in Germany, for inspiration. Mr. Phillips’s videos of his phone calls home to tell his parents he is gay have garnered more than five million views in just a few weeks.
According to a YouTube spokesman, more than 5,000 videos identified by the term “coming out” were uploaded to the site in the week leading up to Oct. 12; more than 12,000 were uploaded in the month leading up to Oct. 12.
The coming-out video may owe its existence to the new social norms belonging to a generation weaned on reality television and social networking, said Dr. Joseph Cilona, a Manhattan-based clinical psychologist. “In many ways, teens and young adults of today have literally been bombarded with the normalization of the disappearance of stigma around sharing personal information,” he said.
For soldiers effectively sequestered on military bases far from home, coming out online has its logistical advantages. It is efficient (everyone can watch the same video) and comfortable (viewer reactions are hidden). Sharing news into a camera is already second nature to soldiers accustomed to online video chatting with services like Skype.