Rachel Charlene Lewis
Updated Aug 30, 2016 @ 7:24 am
23rd Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party - Arrivals
Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic / Getty Images

This weekend, Colton Haynes of Teen Wolf and Arrow, was awarded the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award. He publicly came out just this year in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, and what he had to say as he accepted the award was truly moving, and so important.

“I have experienced a lot of ‘wow’ moments in my life, but I think tonight is probably topping all of them. I just want to thank all of you for letting me feel your love. I hope you feel mine. It’s taken me a long time to get here, so I hope you feel that.”

“It’s up to me to be open and honest with everyone and that’s why tonight is so special for me. I’m asked to play so many different roles as an actor, tonight, I can actually be myself for the first time. It feels incredible. I can also tell you that I feel extremely luckily. I feel lucky just knowing that we have such a strong, fierce, united community that knows equality is our birthright and not just a slogan.”

“I don’t necessarily feel especially deserving of this recognition. We all know that there are many other ways, many other people who have come before me and blazed the trail as LGBT advocates and role models. And I’m walking in their shoes and I’m following their lead.”

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And that’s when Haynes made a promise to the next generation of LGBTQ women and men who will eventually go through what he’s been through — a promise to be an out and proud role model to look to as they face the world.

“Instead, I’ll accept this reward as a promise. My promise is simple and real, and I’m not making it to you. I’m making it to the next generations of lesbians and gay men, bisexuals, and transgender youth, and I hope my example will give them the confidence and hope to be who they are as well.”

We’re genuinely tearing up over Haynes’s eloquent, heartfelt, and incredibly inspiring words. Watch his full speech below.