Stephen Hill, Heckled Gay Army Captain From 2012 YouTube Debate, Opens Up
The LA Times offers an in-depth profile on former Army Captain Stephen Hill, who famously came out via a YouTube question he posed to the 2012 Republican presidential candidates regarding a potential re-instatement of Don’t Ask Don’t tell (which was repealed in September, 2011). You’ll recall Hill’s question garnered boos from the audience and a less than encouraging response from then Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. The LA Times provides a fascinating look at everything that led up to Hill’s decision to reveal who he was to the world and to put those vying to lead the country he had served for 23 years on the spot on an issue that hit home:
If [any of the Republican candidates win in 2012 and reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell], he could lose his career. His uniform. His pension. His identity as a soldier. His honorable discharge. Everything.
He learns that Google and YouTube are hosting a nationally televised debate in Orlando, Fla., for the nine Republican presidential candidates. They are accepting questions...
He closes his door. Instead of his combat fatigues, he wears a T-shirt that says ARMY. It is less official, he reasons, and therefore less likely to get him in trouble if he is discovered. It also displays his gigantic biceps, which he has not spent 20 years developing so he can hide them.
His face, he hides.
I'm a gay soldier and there's been a lot of progress made in the military with the abolishment of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' My question is that under one of your presidencies would you try to change what's been made for progress for gay people in the military?
He sends it in and waits. Viewers are allowed to vote on potential questions, and he is informed that his question is a hit. But now YouTube has another, much scarier request:
Would you consider revealing your identity?
Hill doesn't need time to consider. There's no chance. He has too much to lose.
[His husband, Jeff] Snyder reminds him that they are now married, and that it would not be hard for his command to discover this, and that if the ban is reinstated, he will be kicked out anyway...
In the subject line of his next email to YouTube, he writes: I have reconsidered.
The rest, they say is history. You can read the rest of the profile HERE.