The Arrow star was visibly holding back tears throughout his acceptance for the award given for work in the LGBTQ community after going public about his sexuality earlier this year. “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,” he said.
He also reveals that coming out in the entertainment industry wasn’t easy, but he never made a decision to be gay. “That came just as naturally as the color of my eyes,” he said.
Haynes, who felt like he didn’t feel like he deserved the award considering the people who came before him, he said he’d accept the award as a promise. “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,” he added.
The actor also took to Instagram after the speech to show his gratitude.
Thk u @humanrightscampaign for the incredible honor last night. I couldn’t hold back the emotion. I dont feel especially 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. ❤️😘❤️
Watch Haynes’ full acceptance speech above.