Sept. 21, 2011 -- The young U.S. soldier who took the end of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy to share his experience of coming out to his father via YouTube said he now feels comfortable.
"It feels great. It's nice not having to look over your shoulder or worry about who you are talking to, Phillips told ABC News the day after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was officially repealed. "I never thought I'd be so comfortable with it. It's very supportive. Everybody's been so great."
Phillips, a 21-year-old airman stationed at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, sat alone in front of a camera Tuesday, and under his YouTube handle "AreYouSurprised," called his father in Alabama to tell him that he was gay. In the clip, Phillips said it was "the hardest thing that gay guys will ever have to say.
"You promise you'll always love me? Period?" Phillips asked his father, his voice shaking. He took a beat, and then said it: "Dad, I'm gay. I always have been. I've known for … forever."
Describing how his heart was "beating like crazy," Phillips told his father that he did not want to tell him over the phone, but wasn't sure when he would see him again and didn't want him to find out any other way.
"I still love you son," his father was heard saying through the phone line. "It doesn't change our relationship -- and I always will, no matter what, all right? You are my son, and I am very proud of you."
For Phillips, even showing his face had taken months. He began his journey of coming out last April, posting anonymous YouTube videos while deployed near the Persian Gulf, seeking advice and support.
"I just want to share my journey and struggles with you," Phillips said in a clip posted in April. "I know there are a lot of people that will benefit from this. I don't want to sound selfish, but I made this for me -- so people can help me out … and say 'so when are you going to take the next step?'"
On Twitter, Phillips had described himself as a "military member in the closet, using social media to build up the courage to come out to family, girlfriend, friends and co-workers."
Now that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" has been repealed, Phillips, like many other enlisted men and women, can at last reveal his face, and cannot officially tell his fellow airman and commanding officers the truth. He told ABC News that he is happy that he has inspired others. He also said that now the whole family knows that he is gay.
As for Phillips' father, he told ABC News that he was not exactly thrilled that his son put the clip on YouTube -- but reiterated once again that he loves his son, and always will.