Grey’s Anatomy has a long history of inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters over the years, and now the show’s first romantic story line involving two male doctors has even inspired one of its stars to come out publicly in real life.

“As a gay guy myself, tonight’s episode was so special to me,” actor Jake Borelli wrote on Instagram following the Thursday, November 1 episode.

In the episode, titled “Flowers Grow Out of My Grave,” Borelli’s character Levi Schmitt — AKA “Glasses” — and Nico Kim (played by Alex Landi) escalated weeks of flirtation into a kiss in the hallway of the hospital. Levi revealed that it was the first time he’d ever kissed a man, prompting a speech related to finally feeling like he belonged.

“This is exactly the kind of story I craved as a young gay kid growing up in Ohio, and it blows my mind that I’m able to bring life to Dr. Levi Schmitt as he begins to grapple with his own sexuality this season on Grey’s Anatomy,” Borelli continued. “His vulnerability and courage inspire me every day, and I hope he can do the same for you. To all of you who feel like little Levis out there, know that I do too, that you are seen, and that we’re all in this together. And to everyone who has supported me over the years, I can’t thank you enough, and I love you more than all the stars…”

In September, Grey’s revealed that for its current 15th season, the show would finally feature its first openly gay male surgeon, announcing that Landi would play Dr. Nico Kim — the other doctor featured in Thursday’s monumental episode.

Speaking to EW, Borelli said that he’s been out to his friends and family for nearly a decade, and after talking over the proposed story line over with his dad, he knew he was ready to come out to the greater public, too. “My dad said, ‘When you have a truth about yourself and you finally have the courage to speak up and share that truth, a weight gets lifted,'” he said. “I knew in that moment this is the right thing to do. This is bigger than me.”

What do you think of Jake Borelli’s story? Let us know @BritandCo.

(photos via ABC/John Fleenor)