NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bronx City Councilman James Vacca (D-13th) won praise from the council’s LGBT caucus as he came out publicly as a gay man Friday.

“At this point in my life I’ve decided to publicly come out as a gay man. Every person has their own journey and I am fortunate to be able to make the decision to come out on my own terms,” Vacca said in a statement. “My orientation is an innate part of who I am and I want my friends, family, colleagues, and constituents to share in this part of my life. I don’t want a spectacle or media event; instead I just want your respect as another human being.”

The City Council LGBT Caucus noted that coming out can still be a difficult decision for many.

“The City Council’s LGBT Caucus is incredibly proud of our colleague, Jimmy Vacca. Throughout his career, Jimmy has always been a strong champion of LGBT rights, and by coming out he is giving inspiration and strength to untold numbers of people,” the caucus said in the statement. “Coming out is never easy – even in 2016 – and we greatly admire Jimmy for his courage. We wish him much happiness.”

Vacca is a lifelong Bronx resident, and was born and raised in Pelham Bay. He attended the New York City public schools, and earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York and his master’s degree in urban studies from CUNY Queens College.

He has served as president of the Northeast Bronx Senior Center, and has taught evening and weekend classes at Queens College and Monroe College on political science, public policy, and sociology.

He was elected to the City Council in 2005, and serves as the chairman of the City Council Committee on Technology.

He was an activist as young as the age of 13, when he organized his fellow junior high school students to rally for better bus service by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to his official City Council biography.