At the American Influencer Awards, Kim Kardashian West's longtime makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic -- best known as @makeupbymario -- came out as gay in a moving speech. After accepting the Artist Achievement Award from Kardashian West, who has worked with Dedivanovic since the early days of her fame and called him one of her "best friends," the makeup artist became visibly emotional. "[I have] to be honest with you guys," he told the audience.
"A couple of days ago, on my mother's 73rd birthday, I walked home after a day of stressful meetings at work and she was there doing my laundry and I broke down to her crying," he recounted. "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."
Dedivanovic explained that he'd always known he was "born different." He said, "I was traumatized to be me. I had been living in fear my entire life. I had been ashamed." But his mother told him that "'from this day forward, you are never again to live in shame or fear.'"
With tears in his eyes, the makeup artist directly addressed the "little boys and girls around the world" that are "growing up with pain and fear like [he] did, thinking of killing themselves every single day like [he] did because they are different and they are scared to be themselves, because their culture, or their family judged them."
"I stand here for the first time in my life a proud 37-year-old gay man," Dedivanovic said.. "I finally feel that bright light that I've been dreaming of my whole life is pouring from my soul around my body and it's mine. I can now live the life that I deserve and right now I feel true happiness because for once I can finally breathe... I'm finally happy to be me."
Dedivanovic shared a video of his speech on
, captioning it "finally free." When he walked backstage after accepting his award, he was surprised by his mother, who he'd thought was in Montenegro, and broke down into tears.