Shinjiro Atae, a Japanese music sensation, has come out as gay.

According to the Associated Press, the Japanese pop artist, 34, an alum of the group AAA, made the emotional news at a fan event at Tokyo’s Cube Shibuya on Wednesday, July 26.

“What I’m going to tell you now may not be something you expect or hope to hear. Perhaps some of you may need time to understand,” Atae told fans at the event in Tokyo on Wednesday.

“For years, I struggled to accept a part of myself … But now after all I have been through, I finally have the courage to open up to you about something,” he said. “I am a gay man.”

Atae received a standing ovation from supporters for making the bold declaration at a time when Japan’s laws do not provide equal protection to LGBTQ individuals.

LGBTQ activists and supporters hailed Atae’s statement as a huge boost for the Japanese LGBTQ community.

Sosuke Matsuoka, an LGBTQ activist who was at the event, said he got teary listening to Atae’s words. “If I heard his message when I was younger and struggling with my sexuality, it would have given me a big hope.” Matsuoka wrote in social media message that Atae’s coming out “would give courage to his peers and lead to a change of social mindset.”

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