The reaction to a soldier and his boyfriend at a military prom shows how far we've come.

Andres Camilo, a National Guardsman, recently came out as gay to the entire world.

In June 2016, he made a quick (and quite adorable) appearance in a YouTube video created by his boyfriend, model and filmmaker Max Emerson, where he proudly announced:

"I guess with this video, I'm coming out to the military."


That's Camilo on the right. GIF via Max Emerson/YouTube.

Shortly after, Camilo was promoted to captain — with Emerson by his side.

It was an immensely proud moment for the couple on many levels.

At the time, Camilo wrote on Facebook:

"When I joined the Army 11 years ago and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was in full effect, I was constantly hiding who I was for fear of losing my career. I would have never expected that my soldiers and the man I love would be in the same room cheering to my career."

Last night, my boyfriend was part of my promotion to Captain. When I joined the Army 11 years ago and the "Don't Ask,...

Posted by Andrés Camilo on Sunday, November 20, 2016

The next step for the couple, as in all serious relationships: going to prom together.

Specifically, a gala held by the organization Knights Out, which embraces and supports LGBT soldiers.

My date is the best! #GayArmyProm

A post shared by Andrés Camilo (@andrescamilo___) on

The photos of the beaming couple at the ball went viral and inspired an outpouring of love and support from commenters.

Comments via Camilo's Instagram.

If it seems weird to be celebrating something as simple as two gay men attending a function together, just think — it wouldn't have been possible even six years ago.

As recently as 2011, openly gay men and women were unable to serve in the U.S. armed forces. The official policy, "Dont Ask, Don't Tell," meant superiors weren't supposed to actively seek out or investigate anyone's sexual orientation, but coming out of the closet was out of the question.

After the policy was repealed, a slew of soldiers, including high-ranking officers, were finally able to come out after years of hiding.

If the reaction to Camilo's posts shows anything, it's that all members of the military — gay, straight, or otherwise — have our support.

Camilo's willingness to continue sharing his relationship on social media indicates his brothers and sisters in the armed forces are likely accepting of his lifestyle and proud to serve alongside him.

It may seem like a minor victory now, but the battle for equality in the armed forces has been a long, hard-fought battle.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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