After years of denial to his family, co-workers and listeners of The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, Stern staff member "High-Pitch Mike" Morales announced on the air Monday that he is indeed gay and has been living in the closet the past 20 years, afraid to even have a relationship out of fear of others learning the truth. Morales told listeners that he has known he is gay since the 6th grade, but a threat that his mother made to him while he was in college that she would "disown" him if he was gay drove him deep into the closet. In recent weeks, however, Morales attended the wedding of Howard Stern as well his parents' 40th wedding anniversary and realized that if he were to ever find that kind of lasting love that he would need to be open and honest with those around him. According to Morales, the final straw happened two weeks ago during a Stern show segment where Morales took a lie-detector test that stated he was being deceptive while saying he wasn't gay. Over the holiday, Morales made the decision to come out and called to tell his mother the truth before coming out on the air. He says he was shocked to hear that she reiterated that she would "disown" him if he is gay. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing," Morales told Stern listeners. "It was surreal...And I told her 'I didn't chose to be this way. Nobody chooses to be treated like a second-class citizen. Nobody wants to be shunned by their family.'" Morales thought briefly that this may be the last phone conversation he would ever have with his mother, but after a long silence, his mother responded: "She said, 'I love you and I just want you to be happy in your life, no matter what that means.' She came around very quickly." His coming out on the air was met with support from those in the studio. "As anyone knows, you were very brave because no one wants to lose their mother," Stern told Morales. Stern has long been a champion of LGBT equality and the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry. "I am very proud of you and very happy for you because now you can live an open and authentic life." We congratulate Mike for making the decision to begin living his life openly and honestly, and for sharing his story with the listeners of The Howard Stern Show. Unfortunately, threats and fear tactics like those that kept Mike in the closet are far too common and can cause years of intense pain and anguish, often leading to suicide. While it took a while for Mike to come to his own place of understanding, his story sets an example for others: Having an open dialogue with family and friends has tremendous impact in terms of creating awareness, understanding and acceptance as we continue our march to equality.