Upon being presented the Visibility Award by the Human Rights Campaign in Seattle this weekend, Colton Haynes delivered an emotional speech that, in full disclosure, made every single one of us bawl like a baby.
And according to the HRC, we weren't alone. "His speech was truly touching, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house!" the organization posted on its Facebook page. "Coming out matters — especially for the countless LGBTQ kids who watch Colton's shows."
Haynes, who is best known for his work on TV shows like Teen Wolf, choked back tears throughout his six-minute speech, acknowledging first and foremost that being honored by the HRC was a "humbling experience."
He also spoke to the importance of coming out, revealing that his own journey was a long process and made more difficult by the public scrutiny surrounding such declarations.
"Earlier this year, I guess my coming out, it was a bit splashy for many people," he said, noting that those who were close to him had always known. "But that's how entertainment works, and it seems to make a bigger deal of everyone's personal decisions, you know? And every one of you already knows this — I never made a decision to be gay. It came just as naturally as the color of my eyes."
In a particularly touching moment, Haynes also admitted that being able to speak openly and honestly about his sexuality was transformative.
"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," he said, fighting tears before adding, "And I feel lucky just knowing that we have such a strong, fierce, united community that believes as I do that equality is our birthright. It's not a slogan."
The sad truth Haynes was alluding to, of course, is the fact that people are still treated differently simply because of who they love. For those people, this isn't a platform... it's their lives. Hearing testimonies from people in the public eye like Haynes encourages inclusivity and acceptance.
To that end, Haynes said he was accepting the award as an oath. "My promise is simple and real, and I'm not making it to you. I'm making it to the next generation of lesbians and gay men, bisexuals, transgender youth," he said. "I hope my examples will give them the confidence and hope to be who they are as well, and for them to conquer their own fears and their own hesitations. I want to give them a little more courage to know that they're loved just as they are and to know that they'll grow up beautiful and strong and proud."
At one point, Haynes even broke the proverbial fourth wall to speak directly to these people, saying, "Sometimes we listen to the wrong voices — people telling you that you can't or that you shouldn't. I mean, we all do. We have to listen to our own voices and our own hearts, and that's when we become the best people."
The 27-year-old actor wrapped up his speech by thanking the HRC for inspiring him and by sharing his own personal dreams for what is yet to come.
"I have many hopes for the future and many ambitions as an actor and an artist," he began, "And on a personal note, I have to confess that I also want to raise kids of my own eventually, maybe half a dozen... have a basketball team or something like that. But I would love to not raise them alone. Lucky for all of us, with the historic achievement of marriage equality last year, none of us needs to go through the world alone or without the commitment of the person we truly love."
BRB, just need to get a box of Kleenex to muffle our sobs. Congrats again to Haynes for this well-deserved award! Watch his full speech below.
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