This is precisely why LGBTQ representation in mainstream popular culture is so important.

Earlier this week, a young man named Tom came out as gay to the world, being inspired to do so after reading Becky Albertalli’s 2015 novel Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

The book – which has been adapted into new movie Love, Simon – deals with the coming out journey of 17-year-old Simon Spier.

Tom thanked author Becky Albertalli for giving him a character he could relate to, as well as praising The Greatest Showman anthem This Is Me and Disney characters Wall-E and Stitch for teaching him “it’s okay to be different”.

“I CAN FINALLY BREATHE,” Tom tweeted. “I love every single person no matter what and now I can say I love myself. I’M GAY.

“If you’re struggling with your identity, just know that you’ll get there – I never thought I would and here we are. Embrace, live, BE YOU!”

He added: “A part of me has wanted to hold onto who I’ve always been, just a little longer. I don’t want to hold on anymore. Thank you @beckyalbertalli for giving us Simon. For giving me someone to relate to. For giving me a friend.”

Tom was quickly inundated with messages of support from fellow Twitter users, with his original coming out tweet having gained over 2,200 retweets so far.

“Okay I’m already overwhelmed by the love. Thank you all so much I promise I’ll reply to all of you when I stop shaking,” he later tweeted.

Tom’s tweet quickly found its way to Love, Simon author Becky Albertalli too, who retweeted the message and added: “My heart.”

Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson will star in the title role of Simon, while Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel will play his parents.

13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford and Miles Heizer are also part of the cast, along with Logan Miller (The Walking Dead), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Flash actor Keiynan Lonsdale.

Greg Berlanti – who has directed the movie – recently teased that the film will have some powerful scenes, with the two romantic leads being guys – something that is rarely seen in a mainstream Hollywood rom-com.

Related: Watch Simon talk to his dad about being gay in emotional Love, Simon scene

“There’s this one section of the film where Simon imagines this one boy and imagines them kissing underneath the mistletoe at Christmas,” Berlanti told Entertainment Weekly last year.

“In every other major studio film, it’s always the guy and the girl. And there was something so powerful about it being just a guy imagining himself with this other guy in a film again that was going to be marketed and sold as a mainstream romantic comedy.”

Love, Simon will be in UK cinemas from 6 April, and in the US on 16 March.