Thanks to changing public opinion, altered legislation and the advancement of technology, it’s now, in many ways, easier and more fulfilling than it’s ever been to thrive as a homosexual in the United States. There are, of course, challenges, most pressingly during the teenage years and from bigoted members of society, but with enough determination and enough optimism, it can and usually does get better.

That’s why, with DOMA largely invalidated and gay marriage likely coming back to California, now feels like the perfect time to rear back and celebrate everything that’s wonderful and beautiful about living with honesty, with excitement and with pride. So, as part of the brand new #ProudToLove campaign, YouTube created the above montage featuring some of the most touching and talked about gay-themed videos, and not surprisingly, it has raced around the Internet with lightning speed.

People often wonder why the word “Pride” is so often used in homosexual contexts. Well, as a younger child, true diversity isn’t always celebrated. Sometimes the kids who seem to be having the best time are those who fit in the most and sadly, that can cause the outcasts to become ashamed of their differences. Pride is a way of re-owning those differences. It’s a way of re-orienting thinking patterns and showing not only participants but also the outside world that the eccentricities are what color our lives and offer reasons to smile.

With only brief snippets of all the random videos, it’s difficult to remember just how touching some of them really are. Luckily, the great thing about YouTube is you can simply hop around and watch them all. Here, I’ll get you started. This is Jonah Mowry’s beautiful, haunting and all too familiar story…

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