Matt Easton, a senior at the Mormon Brigham Young University, said, "I am not broken." The boy thanked presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg for inspiring him.
Even though we are two decades into the 21st century and the world seems to be more accepting of various cultures, lifestyles, fashion, and even sexuality, it still takes a lot of guts to come out to your parents and friends. It's hard to predict how anyone will react but all you want is for them to accept you the way you are. Since you're coming out, why not make it grand right? That is exactly what Matt Easton did. The senior from Mormon Brigham Young University announced that he was gay during his graduation speech. As reported by CNN, the valedictorian chose to open up about his sexuality during his convocation speech saying that it was "important to share both for myself and the LGBTQ+ community at BYU."
"I stand before my family, friends and graduating class today, to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God," Easton said during his speech at the College for Family, Home, and Social Sciences. The announcement was received with a lot of cheers, screams, a round of applause, including from his mother who is suffering from terminal cancer.
"I am proud to be a gay son of God": Mormon valedictorian comes out in graduation speech https://t.co/G4GKZY1RrD— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 29, 2019
Brigham Young University was founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The university's honor code states that while "same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue," the school has a "strict commitment to the law of chastity." The university policy reads, "Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. 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."
I’m very proud of you. As a straight Christian woman, i stand beside you!! I say to you: YOU ARE LOVED!!!!! https://t.co/m5rl1zVnxR— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) April 28, 2019
Easton said that he had felt more support than he ever had before when he finally made the announcement. Although a majority of the audience supported his decision with applause, there was a section of the crowd that didn't accept both his sexuality as well as his decision to come out publicly. However, the 24-year-old stands by his decision. "I feel like I just had to do what felt right to me," he told KUTV. “I am not broken,” he said during the speech. “I am loved and important to the plan of our great creator. Each of us is.”
A gay student who came out during his valedictorian speech at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University is earning applause from students and others. https://t.co/WXwYN73JKm— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) April 29, 2019
“Four years ago, it would have been impossible for me to imagine that I would come out to my entire college,” he continued. “It is a phenomenal feeling. And it is a victory for me in and of itself.” In an interview with the Washington Post, Easton mentioned that Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay Democratic presidential candidate, was his biggest inspiration. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has often spoken passionately about Christianity and sexuality. He is viewed as a leader for everyone in his community.
I know what Peter’s words and candidacy means to me, to me at 16 or 24 it would have been life changing. Matthew is a single but clear sign just what Pete’s candidacy means to our lgbtq family and to our country. Bravo Matthew, bravo Chasten, and bravo Pete.— michael (@alari_michael) April 29, 2019
Easton also pointed to Buttigieg’s speech criticizing Vice President Mike Pence, in which Buttigieg said, “That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
“My generation, and even more so the generation after me, we’re changing the way we talk about our identity and who we are,” Easton told the Post. “It’s okay to be different, or not fit the norm.”
Bravo to Matthew Easton, valedictorian at Brigham Young University, where homosexuality is condemned, who told his fellow graduates, "I am proud to be a gay son of God... I am not broken." https://t.co/UW5ojyXt01— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) April 29, 2019
Easton was raised by a Mormon family in Salt Lake City, and at age 18 fresh out of high school, served a mission for his church in Sydney, Australia. Easton then joined Brigham Young to major in political science with a minor in professional writing and rhetoric. “During my time at BYU was the first time I came to terms with my sexuality, I think I kind of blocked it out or compartmentalized it as best as I could,” he said to KUTV.
This is such an amazing moment for acceptance. Moments like this illustrate the positive changes happening in the Mormon Church. https://t.co/BIq02o2ii6— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) April 29, 2019
After his moving speech opening up to the world about his sexuality and being accepted by most people in the crowd including his parents and his friends, the graduate wrapped his degree with a 4.0 GPA and walked off stage with his head held high. Earlier this month, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reversed its policies regarding blessings and baptisms for children whose parents are a part of the LGBTQIAP+ community. They can now be baptized at 8 years old, instead of waiting until they are 18.