The end of Don't Ask Don't Tell this week means the gay service members no longer have to lie to the comrades they depend on to stay alive as they serve our country. But as a courageous video of homosexual Airman Randy Phillips calling his dad in Alabama has shown Americans this week, the DADT repeal means a lot more than that to their families. It means service members can finally be honest with the ones who have loved them from the day they were born: their own parents.
Phillips has been identified as the 21-year-old airman who woke up full of nervous energy on September 20, the day that the 1993 law that allowed gays to serve in the military only if they did not openly acknowledge their sexual orientation was overturned. It wasn't even dawn where he was stationed -- across the Atlantic in Germany -- but he was ready to tell his dad, for the first time, that he was gay.
What an irony that the American military, which carries with it a code of honor and an expectation of integrity and respect for their fellow man, has for so long required people to lie, and to lie to their own moms and dads. It makes talk of how the troops couldn't do it without the support of their families seem like mere lip service. After all, what kind of value are you putting on a parent when you want their child to dissemble to their face.
Phillips' bravery and his father's open armed response offer myriad messages to America about what being gay really is. It's not shameful. It's not a problem. It's not something to hide. And it's not a reason, as Phillips' father says several times over, to change a relationship with someone. A person's admission that they're gay, very simply, does not change who they are -- which is exactly the myth that Don't Ask Don't Tell perpetuated. Servicemen and women were OK one second, a problem the next.
But here, I'll let Randy Phillips show you his face before he comes out and then after show you that he doesn't suddenly become a monster with devil horns and a raging lust for ... anything. The only thing that does change, really, is the weight that you can see lifted off his shoulders (warning, there is some profanity near the end of this video, so kick the kids out of the room, turn it down in an office setting, etc.):
The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell just gave a family a second chance, a chance to move on honestly, to respect each other and love each other. That sounds a lot more honorable to me than lying.
Image via YouTube