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Gay Brigham Young Valedictorian Chokes Up Telling His Story on Ellen 

Gay Brigham Young Valedictorian Chokes Up Telling His Story on Ellen 

Matt Easton

Matt Easton, the valedictorian at the Mormon institution who came out as gay during his graduation speech last month, shares his story with Ellen DeGeneres.

This year's political science valedictorian at the Mormon institution Brigham Young University, Matt Easton, came out as gay last month in a graduation speech that went viral. He appeared on Ellen DeGeneres's show Monday to share why he chose to come out at that point.

"It's something I've been wrestling with my whole life and I thought, Should I do it? Should I not? Ultimately I decided there's no better place to do it than here," Easton said.

"I thought, I'm ready. This is a new chapter of my life. I'm graduating and I want to live more authentically, more honestly. More than that, I want to give visibility to the other students who are gay who maybe aren't so ready to come out," he added.

Easton went on to tell DeGeneres about the university's honor code that had him terrified to even hug or shake the hand of another male student for fear someone would see it and report him, which could result in being expelled.

"It's really scary. As a gay student, I'm trying to figure out my feelings, understand my faith. On top of it, everybody's watching me and I'm so worried and afraid of losing all that I worked for academically," Easton said.

Easton became emotional while explaining the meaning of a white sash he wore during his speech. The sash is intended to honor someone, so he chose to pay tribute to Harry Fisher, a student he met his freshman year who came out on Facebook and later died by suicide.

"It was his last semester and he was in sort of the same situation that I was, and he decided to come out on Facebook, and because of the rhetoric and the response that he got from our community he actually ended up committing suicide," Easton said.

"He sat right in front of me, and I saw him do that, and I thought, Is that my future? Is that what I'm headed toward? So I thought, Maybe if I came out at graduation, maybe a student like me, a freshman, could say, No, my future's something brighter, something better. We can succeed. We can do what we want and accomplish our dreams. So that's why I chose to come out there."

Clearly moved by Easton's story, DeGeneres responded by saying, "It's all about visibility. A lot of times some people want to keep us quiet."

"I think that we all want to be seen. What you did was pretty amazing, and especially to be here. You are going to be seen by a lot of people," DeGeneres said.

Watch Easton and DeGeneres below.

If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. LGBTQ youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.

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