If ever there was a reason to advocate for the rights and acknowledgment of the gays and lesbians among us it is because in doing so we can save our fellow humans from a lifetime of suffering and existential pain.

I speak here about a friend, Adam*, I met through my activities as a quack-counselor for men who fight with self-loathing and body dysmorphia. Adam came to us so full of self loathing that he saw an attack in everyone’s words, and took them personally even if they weren’t even directed at him. Despite our obvious mission, Adam’s debut in the group was a frothing rant about how our group is actually a gay pick-up site disguising itself as a help forum.

Older and devoutly religious, Adam was not raging against us so much as he was raging against a lifetime of failed suppression of his own homosexual feelings. Over the course of several months he started seeing a real counselor and started facing his feelings towards other men. He would make a little progress, get the courage to say something he believed in, and then immediately flog himself for being useless, wretched and unworthy of having a voice. But just the other day Adam shared a story of victory with us. He found the courage to go out and meet another man and taste what it’s like to embrace his sexuality.

The joy and the victory in Adam’s voice when he came back to tell us his story brought tears to my eyes! It was as if he had finally stepped out of the Cave and into the sunshine and was brimming with life and vigor and enthusiasm.

When I hear stories like this, when I see men as they go from the tiny, dark, beaten and broken selves that they drag throughout their every day to the glorious, shining selves that they truly are, I know that there is only one right in the world: Love. When we deny homosexual rights, when we deny the legitimacy of their sexuality, their feelings, their sense of identity, we are locking them deep inside a cave where their only light is a dying fire and their only reality is the shadow of life as it passes them by on the outside of their existence. This is wrong. This is a kind of torture so insidious that those who suffer from it believe it is their own just dessert, their own fault.

Acknowledgment of homosexuals is not a question of politics. It’s not a question of maintaining the social fabric. It’s a question of our own humanity. Love is something that we cannot force or fake. In fact love has only one quality: that we receive it as we give it; that we love ourselves as we love others and we love others as we love ourselves. If we cannot acknowledge the love of others, then it is because we deny the same love to ourselves. Adam has been denied love, and so he denied himself the ability to love. But when he discovered that he in fact has the power to love, his world exploded and though I’ve never met Adam in person, the energy of his victory over loneliness and self hatred touched my heart as well.

This is the reason why we must acknowledge, accept, and embrace our homosexual fellow humans. Because love.

*Adam: not his true name or handle.