Already tasked with the duty of delivering a speech on the behalf of his graduating class, Matt Easton not only used his platform as valedictorian to reminisce about his time at Brigham Young University and encourage his fellow classmates going forward, but he also used it to also do something incredibly brave. He seized the moment to publicly come out as gay in front of a crowd of 10,000 people including fellow graduating classmates, friends and even family.
Towards the end of his commencement speech, Matt Easton says: “I stand before my family, friends and graduating class today, to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.” Following his proud declaration cheers of support erupt from the large crowd of graduates, friends, and family members.
Easton goes on to say: “I am not broken. I am loved and important to the plan of our great creator. Each of us are.”
The 24-year-old graduates from Brigham Young University’s College of Home, Family and Social Sciences as a political science major, professional writing and rhetoric minor with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Before delivering his speech, Easton already garnered a small yet sturdy support system. Already out to a select few close friends and family members, Easton also had his speech reviewed and approved by several faculty members at BYU.
When asked about his decision to come out in such a public manner, Easton holds true to his decision to come out publicly as doing what he felt was right as the LGBTQ+ community on Brigham Young University’s campus deserves to have their voices heard.
The institution is named after the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Brigham Young. Adhering close to the values of the Mormon faith, the university holds a strict code of conduct in regards to its LGBTQ+ students as it states:
“Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code,’ the university policy reads. ‘Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
In short, the university does not ban or refuse admittance to LGBTQ+ students, however, it does not approve of public displays of their sexuality and considers such displays as a violation of the institution’s code of honor.
While the school’s policies regarding the conduct of LGBTQ+ students remain unflinching, just three weeks prior to Easton’s commencement speech the church repealed their former ban against children of same-sex couples being baptized as well as repealing the clause that deemed same-sex couples as sinners that could be expelled from the church. Although the church has made these progressive changes in regards to displaying more tolerance towards its LGBTQ+ members, the faith does not plan to alter its opposition to same-sex marriage.
What The Future Holds
Thank you everyone for your love and support today ❤️ I feel so so lucky to have had a chance to share some of my story with so many people. If you didn’t get the chance, you can check out some clips of my speech below 🙂 pic.twitter.com/qW3hh6bYC8
— Matty Easton (@easton_matty) April 27, 2019
With the video of Easton’s commencement speech racking up over 100,000 views in less than 72 hours and counting, there remain many questions about what the future now holds for the recent graduate. Easton who was raised within and is still part of the Mormon faith was asked by local Utah news station KUTV about his projected future as a gay member of the church. Easton’s response alluded uncertainty:
“There comes a time when I’m going to have to start thinking about these questions , you know? Am I going to get married? Am I going to have children? What are these pressures that my family and my parents want for me to do? Are they a reality for me? Um… those are some pretty hard questions and I don’t have the answers to all of them.”
Until that time comes, Easton continues to receive immense support from those around him as well as across the country from those who have seen the viral video of his commencement speech.
— Melih Ertekin (@ErtekinELL) April 29, 2019
Great job 2019 BYU Valedictorian Matt Easton 🎓 who also came out as gay 🏳️🌈 during his speech.
You bring hope, vision and better understanding. The Ostler family and so many love you ❤️ https://t.co/qiBlCKuqj7
— Papa Ostler (@Papa_Ostler) April 27, 2019
As someone who was run off BYU’s campus 18 yrs ago for being gay, I am deeply grateful for Matt Easton’s courage. https://t.co/XgDz800x6q
— Jason Farr (@farr_jason) April 29, 2019