Dan Levy got emotional Saturday night as he revealed his coming out story to guests gathered at the GLAAD Gala in San Francisco.

Levy, the creator and star of “Schitt’s Creek”, was on hand to accept the Davidson/Valentini Award, an award presented to an openly LGBT individual who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the LGBT community.

“Standing up here, it’s hard not to think back to a very specific time in my life when I was still in the closet,” Levy said. “I was in high school, I had a bad faux-hawk because the first ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie had just come out and I thought Tom Cruise was a real drink of water,” he went on to joke.

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But not being out had real consequences in Levy’s life. He shared, “When I was falling in love with my best friend and instead of being able to do anything about it, I watched him fall in love with someone else, because I didn’t have the courage to act publicly on my feelings. Thinking back to those formative days, where I was missing out on the good stuff because I was walking around with an invisible rain cloud over my head, smiling through the heartbreak so as to avoid anyone asking me what was wrong. Because I didn’t have the strength to tell them.”

Shutterstock — Photo by Drew Altizer Photography/Shutterstock

He added, “I legitimately thought that I would have to live with this secret — my being gay — for the rest of my life because I didn’t have the security of seeing a lot of people like myself being celebrated in popular culture.”

Levy reflected on how he travelled from that rather bleak point in his life to where he is today, “an out and proud gay Emmy loser” (the quip in reference to his Emmy loss last weekend). For Levy, it was a combination of support, encouragement and love that enabled him to transform. He talked of how his family loved him “fiercely and unconditionally” when he came out at 18, how his female friends defended him, and how one teacher, in particular, nudged him on the path towards writing.

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But changing his own life wasn’t enough for Levy. He decided to use his creativity to impact the lives of others.

“When I found myself in a position to tell stories on a global scale, I seized the opportunity to make a television show that might, in its own way, offer some support, encouragement and love to those who might not have it in their homes or in their schools or in their day to day lives,” Levy said.

“[‘Schitt’s Creek’ is] a place where acceptance incubates joy and creates a clarity that allows people to see themselves and each other more deeply. It’s fiction, yes. But I’ve always been told to lead by example and this felt like a good place to start.”