An Alabama college student announced that he was gay in an effort to show solidarity with the victims in the Orlando mass shooting attack, CBS News reported on Friday.
“I wanted to officially be a part of that community that was hurting, and that needed as many people to come together and stand with them,” said Jesse Johnson.
Johnson, who is studying music at the University of Montevallo, said that though his heart sank after hearing about the massacre at the LGBT Pulse nightclub, he could not fully express his sense of mourning without revealing his sexuality.
“I’ve thought about coming out for months, but was afraid of being shunned by those I care about over something that makes me who I am,” his Facebook post read. “I’m not going to change. I am gay and I love you all.”
Though Johnson said that his friends and family have been supportive since his announcement, his mother Nikki Johnson admitted to being concerned for his safety.
“I mean, this is Alabama,” she said. “I personally will never understand the parents that turn their back on their kids. I love him and that will never change.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Alabama lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow child-care service and placement agencies receiving state funding from turning away LGBT families. Also, the state’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, publicly defied the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriages, to the point that he was suspended from his position.
Watch CBS’ report, as aired on Friday, below.