For years Venezuelan supermodel Patricia Velasquez walked high-fashion runways flaunting designer garments while hiding her true self. 

According to the Advocate, the fashion powerhouse realized that it was time to live openly as a Latina lesbian while she was backstage at one of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Paris shows. Now, Velasquez, whose career was propelled by fashion icons such as Andre Leon Talley, Jean Paul Gaultier, Isaac Mizrahi and Karl Lagerfeld, shares her journey from lying about who she was to coming out and living free in her memoir “Straight Walk.” She says:

It didn’t matter how many beautiful Chanel dresses they were putting on me or how much success I was having as a model, I felt uglier every day. My professional successes compensated for my being gay, because being gay meant I wasn’t good enough. It made me feel like I had to work harder.

Velasquez looks to inspire young Latina women to fully embrace and own their identities, not matter what they may be.

It’s all worth it, if I can inspire others. Even if it’s just one person. I want to at least start a dialogue about being Latina and gay. The tide is changing. It’s time to take action, specifically in the Latin communities, which have long avoided the topic.

The book was released in February. Read more.