Colton Haynes Tearfully Accepts Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award With Speech About LGBT Youth

An emotional moment. Colton Haynes accepted the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award over the weekend with an emotional speech in which he promised to lead by example for LGBT youth.

“I have experienced a lot of wow moments in my life, but I think tonight it’s probably topping all of them,” the Arrow actor, 28, said with tears in his eyes at the HRC Seattle gala on Saturday, August 27. “It’s an extremely humbling experience for me to receive this award from the Human Rights Campaign and to know that this is about my visibility. One way I can express my gratitude is by telling you guys the truth about me.”

Colton Haynes
Colton Haynes cries during his speech at the Human Rights Campaign Equality Forward Gala in Seattle on Aug. 27, 2016.

Earlier this year, Haynes publicly came out as gay during an interview with Entertainment Weekly. However, he says the reception wasn’t entirely as positive as he had expected.

Colton Haynes
Colton Haynes accepts the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award.

“I never made a decision to be gay. That came just as naturally as the color of my eyes,” the Teen Wolf alum explained on Saturday. “But however, it’s up to me to be honest and open with everyone, and that’s why I’m here tonight and that’s why tonight is so special to me. I’m asked to play so many different roles as an actor, but tonight I can actually be myself for the first time. It feels incredible.”

Although Haynes has been an advocate for the LGBT community since he first opened up about his sexuality in May, he admits that he has some reservations about being honored with the HRC Visibility Award.

“I don’t necessarily feel especially deserving of this recognition,” he told the audience. “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 in their lead. Instead, I’ll accept this award as a promise. … I’m making [a promise] to the next generation of lesbians and gay men, bisexuals, transgender youth, and I hope my example 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 the just 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.”

Watch Haynes' full speech in the video below!

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