actor Colton Haynes
gave an emotional acceptance speech while receiving the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award in Seattle on Saturday night.
"I'm asked to play so many different roles as an actor, but tonight I can actually be myself for the first time," he said. "It feels incredible."
The 28-year-old was visibly moved and holding back tears throughout his acceptance for the award, given for his bravery in going public about his sexuality
earlier this year and his advocacy since then for the LGBT community.
Haynes addressed his decision to come out publicly in the speech. "My coming out was a bit splashy for many people," he said. "That's just how entertainment works. It makes a bigger deal out of everyone’s personal decisions."
But, the actor said, he never made a decision to be gay. "That came just as naturally as the color of my eyes."
The heartthrob said he didn't feel like he deserved the award and acknowledged the trailblazers in the LGBT movement who came before him. "Instead I'll accept this award as a promise," he said.
"I'm making [the promise] to the next generation 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."
Haynes shared his thoughts afterwards to his 5 million followers on Instagram.
"Thk u @humanrightscampaign for the incredible honor last night. I couldn't hold back the emotion. I don't feel especiall [sic] deserving of this recognition. We all know there are many others who have come before me to blaze the trail as LGBT advocates & role models. I am walking in their shoes and following their lead. This is for all of my incredible fans & hope I can inspire y'all to be yourselves even though I hid for so long," he wrote.
Check out what Haynes had to say about growing up gay
and keeping his sexuality a secret in Hollywood in the video below.