Shay Mitchell, who plays a lesbian on ABC Family's mystery drama Pretty Little Liars, says she is “fortunate” to play a lesbian teen.

The 23-year-old Canadian actress' role of gay teenager Emily Fields is part of a growing number of such characters on television shows, including Glee, 90210, Skins, Gossip Girl, Hellcats, Greek and Showtime's new entry Shameless.

Mitchell told E! Online that she's been approached by gay teens who say her character's strength has inspired them.

“Young girls and guys just come up to me on the street and say things like, 'Thank you, I related to your character unlike any other, especially when she was first discovering who she was and then come out to her dad – it gave me the courage and strength to come out to my parents.'”

“That's amazing,” Mitchell said, “I couldn't imagine playing a better character. I am very fortunate.”

She added that Emily will continue to “have a good time” standing up against anti-gay bullying.