In order to celebrate Gay Pride Month, Billboard asked a number of celebrities to write Pride Month love letters. In hers, Vanessa Williams spoke about her personal experience losing friends to AIDS as well as the progress that has been made in the past years.

She began by paying tribute to those that she had lost, writing, “Five people who attended my first wedding, in 1987, unfortunately died of AIDS. That’s not including friends from high school and beyond who met the same fate over the years. I had to start this letter off with a bang because these friends — my chosen family — meant the world to me, and I miss them all very much.”

“The LGBTQ community has been an accepted part of my life since my childhood, where my parents embraced and encouraged gay friendships, as well as being inspired by the artistry and talents that were welcomed in our household,” she continued. “Of course, being involved in the arts practically my entire life, I slowly watched my closeted gay friends emerge from the silence, shame and fear of what being openly gay could bring, to the pride and confidence that I’ve witnessed in them as times changed.”

She ended on a high note, pointing out the tremendous strides that the gay community has made, while still acknowledging that there is much to be done.

“Despite how hectic times may seem today, take a moment to thank the lives, stories and movements that allow the LGBTQ community to walk freely, marry joyously and dream the dreams that can now be a reality for everyone. Yes, there are always obstacles to confront and voices to ring out loud, so continue to show your presence, prove your worth and above all else: be fabulous! I love you all.”