The Human Rights Campaign presented Colton Haynes with their Visibility Award in Seattle this past weekend, an award given to celebrities “who use their elevated positions and reach to benefit the LGBT community.”
The 27-year-old actor, who publicly came out as gay earlier this year, fought back tears as he delivered a truly touching speech.
“Colton Haynes has inspired countless LGBTQ young people across the country and around the world to live their lives as their authentic selves,” said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement.
“By simply being open about who he is, he is helping to break down barriers and tear down closet doors.”
Haynes called the award “a humbling experience.”
“I never made a decision to be gay, that came just as naturally as the color of my eyes,” he said. “But it’s up to me to be honest and open with everyone.”
“I’m asked to play so many roles as an actor,” Haynes confessed. “Tonight I can be myself and it feels incredible.”
“I don’t necessarily feel especially deserving of this recognition,” he added. “We all know there are many other people who have come before me as role models. I’m walking in their shoes and following their lead.”
Haynes also admitted that before he wanted to become an actor, he had considered becoming a meteorologist.
“I have always been obsessed with clouds and one time I thought I was going to be a meteorologist instead of being an actor,” he said.
“I have many hopes for the future, and many ambitions as an actor and an artist. On a personal note, I have to confess that I also want to raise kids of my own, eventually, maybe half a dozen. Maybe have a basketball team or something like that…but I would love to not have to raise them alone.”
Watch his emotional speech below: