Actor Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf, Arrow) took to social media Thursday night to share a photo he spent years trying to erase from the internet.
The image was used on the cover of the March 2006 issue of XY, a magazine aimed at young LGBTQ readers.
Haynes shares that he was a teenager and working as a model when the homoerotic photo was taken.
In his Instagram post, Haynes says for many years he was “incredibly ashamed” of the photo and worried that it would affect his career.
The 32-year-old says looking at the photo made him sad as it reminded of him of a time “before I was placed with voice & movement coaches to straighten me up for the cameras…before I learned to see my queerness as a liability.”
Haynes shares candidly he feels “jealous” of the boy he sees in the image: “so open, so free.” And he now realizes he “had to be taught that it wasn’t ok to be who he was.”
“Being gay is worth celebrating,” Haynes adds. “I wish I’d figured that out sooner, but I’m so glad I know it now. To everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, I hope you celebrate yourselves this month & always, exactly as you are.”
The post has received over 570,000 likes on Instagram with several of Haynes’s famous friends chiming in with their support.
Actress Keke Palmer wrote, “Thank you for sharing your art. How beautiful you were then and now. I thank you for posting this and hate what you went through but so glad it’s made you a vessel to cast out the darkness with truth and light!!”
Michelle Visage (RuPaul’s Drag Race) replied “LOUD AND PROUD BABY”
Charlie Carver (Boys in the Band) sent some heart emoji love and Food Network host Jonathan Bennett responded, “This is so powerful. I feel you Buddy. Love who you were then and love who you are now.”
Fortunately, Haynes is now much more comfortable in his own skin. His Instagram feed shows he recently did a photoshoot for GQ Thailand that looks pretty Pride-ful.