Colton Haynes Cries Through HRC Visibility Speech: ‘Equality Is a Birthright’
Here's hoping the price of admission to Colton Haynes' acceptance of the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award came with tissues.
"I have experienced a lot of 'wow' moments in my life, but I think tonight is probably topping all of them," he began. "I want to thank all of you for letting me feel your love, I hope you feel mine. It's taken a long time for me to get here."
Haynes, who publicly came out in a series of interviews earlier this year, also credited the organization with acknowledging his efforts, and said he hoped the audience felt that those were reflected back.
"I never made a decision to be gay," he said. "That came as naturally as the color of my eyes, but it's up to me to be honest and open with everyone...that's why tonight's so special. I'm asked to play so many roles as an actor, but tonight I can actually be myself for the first time. It feels incredible."
Now, Haynes is committed to using his celebrity to canvass for acceptance for young people who identify with the LGBTQ community.
"Equality is a birthright, it's not a slogan," he said. "I don't feel especially deserving of this recognition...[but] I'll accept this award as a promise...I'm making it to the next generation of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender youth, and I hope my example will give them the hope and confidence to be who they are."
Even from behind screens, Haynes' peers and fans were moved, and shared support on Twitter.
Though Haynes has said he's been out to friends and family for years, addressing his sexuality in public has come with complications. He vaguely confirmed being gay on Tumblr in January, and confirmed it officially in a May Entertainment Weekly piece that didn't include him explicitly saying the words.
Real O'Neals star Noah Galvin very publicly criticized Haynes for coming out meekly, but Haynes insisted in an August interview with Out that he said "I'm gay" to EW many times, the magazine just hadn't chosen to publish the words. He also chronicled the harsh reality of coming out to his family when he was a teen — his mother's rejection pushed him to experiment with drugs and Haynes said he was told that his father killed himself after learning of the actor's sexuality.
Watch Colton Haynes' HRC speech above.
See a Collection of Celebs Who Have Publicly Come Out: