A 2018 Human Rights Campaign report found that LGBTQIA+ youth face high rates of depression, and while there are various contributing factors, family rejection — which Dedivanovic touched on in his speech — is one. "We are all equally deserving of the right to feel happiness and to feel loved. "I'm asking you all to open your eyes, to open your hearts and your souls, because so many of our little boys and girls around the world are growing up in pain and fear like I did, thinking of killing themselves every single day like I did, because they are different, and they are scared to be themselves, because their culture or their family judge them and shame them," he said. "Little kids are scared that their parents and their uncles, aunts, and cousins, their family will not accept them because they were born different. We are not different.
But, he said, in the time leading up to the ceremony, he didn't feel that happiness or bright light — until the very moment he actually stood on the stage and publicly came out as gay. "Right now, I stand here for the first time in my life a proud, 37-year-old gay man," Dedivanovic said in a powerful speech, which he posted on Instagram with the caption, "Finally free. " In the speech, he shared that a couple of days prior to the awards, he "broke down crying" during a conversation with his mom. "I told her, finally, that I had spent my entire life and childhood suppressing my thoughts, suppressing my dreams, my feelings, my creativity, and trying to be invisible so that no one would know how I'm feeling inside," he said. "I was traumatized to be me.
When Mario Dedivanovic first started out in the beauty industry as Sephora employee nearly 20 years ago, he pictured a moment in the future of being honored for his work — standing on a stage, surrounded by a bright light, and feeling "pure, like joy and happiness. " Dedivanovic shared that story on November 18 from the center of such a stage at the 2019 American Influencer Awards while accepting the Artistic Achievement Award.
When he woke up the next morning, Dedivanovic said he started to feel the slight glow of that light he manifested 20 years ago; and when he came out as gay on stage, he felt its full brightness. "It's pouring from my soul, around my body, and it's mine," he said. "I can now live the life that I deserve, and right now I feel true happiness because, for once, I can finally breathe, and I can accept this beautiful honor, and I am proud of myself.
"I am proud of myself. I'm finally happy to be me." https://t.co/uWmLFFIR0r— Allure (@Allure_magazine) November 20, 2019