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to the 2012 Republican presidential candidates regarding a potential re-instatement of Don’t Ask Don’t tell (which was repealed in September, 2011).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.


  1. oncemorewithfeeling says

    Again with the “came out”. It’s like a fetish. Now no one can simply ask a question that involves their being gay without it being some sort of earth-shattering culturally-required ritualistic event in your eyes?

    Is there really never a time when mentioning that you’re gay is just mentioning that you’re gay?

  2. says

    It truly was a brilliant moment – the Boos…the BOOing of a man who is serving his country, while the bigots at home and the Presidential Candidates of the GOP managed to keep themselves and their *sons* out of serving in the military. “We Love Our Troops!” they insist. Unless, of course, they’re gay bisexual or transgendered.

    The piece was wonderful, so glad he’s sharing this. Well met!

  3. Dback says

    Was so moved by his story, and his quest for a soulmate–the loneliness he described was wrenching. I’m feeling a lot more empathy today for those who are still closeted and have so much love to give, but it’s stifled by their fear and inability to live openly…truly heartbreaking stuff.

  4. Rob says

    A truly wonderful story from the LA Times- I highly recommend clicking through to read it. I shed a tear at the loneliness part. It certainly underlines the vile nature of Santorum (wipe it off fast if you ever get any on you.)

    Wishing Snyder-Hill’s all the best. Hope that as Santorum stars fades and Snyder-Hill’s rises, their paths will cross. Mmmm.

  5. Drew says

    Ugh, I just watched Santorum answer that question- since it’s been a little while- and man, he sure does sound as stupid, ignorant and backwards as I remember. Thank the gods that he was pushed back under the mossy rocks from which he was birthed.

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