Brigham Young University valedictorian comes out as proud 'gay son of God' in speech
A student of the Brigham Young University quoted the Book of Mormon in his commencement speech and also came out as a "gay son of God" somewhere in the middle. The audience present was quick to cheer on political science valedictorian Matt Easton on April 26 as he made the public announcement for the first time at the university which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The BYU graduate said in his speech: "I have felt another triumph; that of coming to terms, not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me to be. As such, I stand before the Lord, my family, my graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God."
Easton, who had interned in Utah Senator Mitt Romney's 2018 campaign, had reportedly told very close family and friends but had never publicly disclosed that he was gay, Fox News reported.
He wrote in a post on Twitter: "I felt it was important to share both for myself and for the LGBTQ+ community at BYU. While I don’t speak for everyone -- my own experience is all I can vouch for -- I hope that people know that we ARE here at BYU, and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon."
According to BYU's website, the Honor Code doesn't ban gay students, but does prohibit "homosexual behavior", including all forms of physical intimacy that "give expression to homosexual feelings". Officials had approved his speech before the commencement ceremony.
The valedictorian got support from a lot of people online, including Christian celebrity, Kristin Chenoweth.
He told KUTV in an interview: "You know there's people that are telling me I went too far, people telling me I didn't go far enough. Ultimately, I had to do what felt right to me."
When he was asked if he could live the life he wants as a gay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Easton said: "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."
Easton also said that finding loads of support after he came out publicly is enough to get started with life.
He said: "I just felt more support from such a large body than I've ever felt before, and I think that everyone deserves to have that feeling. Overall, on the day to day, my experience at BYU was quite wonderful."