A heartbreaking YouTube video, on its way to becoming a viral sensation, powerfully captures the life-or-death fear of rejection so many LGBT youth experience.
AsNewNowNext reported, Andy Goodling met his boyfriend, Bryan Hessert, at Philadelphia's Temple University. They dated for four years, but they kept their relationship a secret the entire time, terrified that their friends and family would learn they were gay.
Even after Goodling graduated and went to work in Costa Rica, he and Hessert spoke on the phone every night and made frequent trips to see each other.
In April 2014, the couple decided to meet in Fort Lauderdale, to discuss coming out and moving in together.
But when Goodling arrived in Florida, he found Hessert feverish, vomiting, and suffering terrible migraines. He refused to go to the hospital, even as his condition worsened, afraid his family would find out about the trip and his same-sex relationship.
Once back home, Hessert finally went to the doctor and was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia.
"All I wanted to do was call him, but I couldn't," says Goodling in the video. "Because his parents were in the room and he didn't want us to talk in front of them."
Hessert's battle was short: On April 18, 2014, he died from complications from pneumonia -- just a few minutes shy of his 23rd birthday.
"I'll never forget how I felt when I heard the news," recalls Goodling. "I collapsed on the floor and cried my eyes out. My entire world was crashing in front of my eyes."
Now, Goodling hopes he will inspire others to be out and proud by telling his love story on YouTube.
"The only way I can make sense of this tragedy is to try to turn it into a positive message," he explains in the video. "I want our story to live in everyone, and know that hiding your life is not worth it. Bryan would still be alive today if he did not live in fear of rejection and accepted who he was."
Goodling says he'll question for the rest of his life if Hessert's death could have been prevented if they'd come out sooner. "For now, the only thing I can do is share Bryan's story and hope that it can reach those who are also going through tough times and are living in fear."