A 24-year-old sailor in Chile made history this week as the nation's first serving member of the Chilean armed forces to announce he's gay.

Mauricio Ruiz told journalists at a press conference in Santiago that the decision to come out had “not been easy,” but he felt it was important to fight anti-gay discrimination, the BBC reported.

Gay people, Ruiz said, have “no reason to hide.”

“We can do anything, be marines or in any branch [of the military],” he said. “We can do whatever profession, and we deserve as much respect as anyone else.”

“In life there's nothing better than to be yourself, to be authentic. To look at people in the eye and for those people to know who you are.”

The Chilean armed forces said they fully supported Ruiz.

“[The Navy is] telling the country and the members of the institution particularly that it is possible for gays and lesbians to be part of the armed forces and that they aren't going to suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation within these institutions,” said Rolando Jimenez, president of Movement for Integration and Homosexual Liberation.