updated 11/27/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/27/2013 AT 1:20 PM ET
“I haven’t talked about my sexuality on this show ever,” Harper, 48, said on the show’s Tuesday episode. “I really do believe this is the right time.”
That “right time” was influenced by his decision to encourage contestant Bobby Saleem to come out to his father, who was visiting his son at the ranch.
“I come from a very strict Catholic background,” said Saleem, who admitted on the show that he was gay. “Homosexuality, in a sense, was wrong, so I kind of hid it. It’s just something I’ve kind of kept from my parents, or at least my dad. I always felt like there was something wrong with me.”
“I want to show Bobby that he doesn t have to live in shame,” Harper said, telling Saleem, “Being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”
Harper, who stated on the show that he “knew a very long time ago that I was gay,” said he actually came out when he was 17.
“When I came out I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles,” he told Saleem. “But being gay doesn’t mean being weak.”
Those words turned out to be prophetic, as Harper’s admission was met with incredible support on Twitter.
“THANK YOU to everyone who supported my decision to talk about being gay w/Bobby,” Harper Tweeted. “I felt like it was appropriate and necessary. LOVE Y’ALL!!”
And his words have already impacted Saleem.
“Thank you @MyTrainerBob for the words that have changed the path of my life,” Tweeted Saleem, who promised to have a talk with his father in the near future.