An 86-year-old came out 'too late' to find love. So, young people surprised him.

Martin is an 86-year-old gay man from the U.K. — who came out at age 85.

For all those years, he hid a big part of who he truly was. "It's tough being an outsider," he explained, sitting alone in his dimly lit apartment.

Now, he deeply regrets waiting so long to come out. "I missed the boat in regards to finding a lovely partner — a soulmate that I could love, live with."


GIF via 5 Gum/YouTube.

In a tear-jerking new ad video for 5 Gum, Martin encouraged young LGBTQ people to live out and proud now — not later.

"Go ahead, do it," he advised softly. "You've got it. You owe it to yourself."

But, as you'll see in the video, a few young LGBTQ people had surprise messages for Martin too (story continues below):

"Your story inspired me to be true to myself and to be proud of who I am," one young person explained to Martin in a video message.

"[Martin's story] made me very happy to be in the place that I am now," another young person, sitting alongside their partner, explained. "It made me realize how lucky we both are to be where we are right now."

GIF via 5 Gum/YouTube.

One young man inspired by Martin even came out to his father, recorded the interaction, and sent it to the 86-year-old.

"It must have taken a lot of courage," Martin explains in an email to Upworthy. "Now he can be a much happier guy!"

Martin's story and the video responses from young LGBTQ people were completely genuine and did not involve actors, 5 Gum confirmed to Upworthy.

While Martin may wish he had come out sooner, he's now living freer than he's ever been. And that's worth celebrating.

He recently went to his first Pride parade, for instance and says it was "a marvelous experience."

GIF via 5 Gum/YouTube.

"I danced all along waving my little flag and connected to thank all our supporters who got up early," Martin says. "Lots of hugs and kisses all the way to thank them."

Happy Pride, Martin. 🌈

Just to note: Upworthy and 5 Gum do not have a business partnership. We just love cute, important videos. That's all.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

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