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Brigham Young Valedictorian Comes Out as Gay in Graduation Speech

Matt Easton

UPDATE (April 29th): Brigham Young University (BYU) pre-approved the commencement speech of valedictorian Matt Easton in which he publicly came out as gay in advance, according to KUTV.

After going viral on Sunday, Easton told the local outlet that he felt "proud to be a gay son of God" and that coming out was "a phenomenal feeling, and it is a victory for me in and of itself."

Easton confirmed in the interview that he had told some of his close friends and family he was gay, but had never come out publicly.

Currently, BYU allows students to identify as gay or lesbian but still maintains honor code policies barring students from any "homosexual behavior."

This code remains unclear when it comes to trans and gender nonconforming students, but is largely interpreted as transphobic. 


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This year's political science valedictorian at Brigham Young University, Matt Easton, came out as gay during his graduation speech on Friday.

“I recall countless times here at the Y where I have battled and fought in prayer with my maker,” Easton said, invoking parts of Book of Mormon. “It was in these quiet moments of pain and confusion that I felt another triumph—that of coming to terms not with who I thought I should be but who the Lord has made me.”

“I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God. I am not broken, I am loved and important in the plan of our Great Creator. Each of us are,” Easton continued.

As the audience responded with cheers, Easton said, “Four years ago, it would have been impossible for me to imagine that I would come out to my entire college. It is a phenomenal feeling. And it is a victory for me in and of itself.”

Later, Easton tweeted his thanks to BYU for allowing him to share his story with the audience at graduation.

 

 

Earlier this month, the Mormon church backtracked on its anti-LGBTQ policy that was widely dubbed the Policy of Exclusion.

The church will no longer bar most children of LGBTQ parents from receiving baptism, and while it still considers same-sex marriages sinful, it will not classify them as apostasy — a rejection of church teachings that could result in excommunication. It had announced the baptism ban and the apostasy classification in 2015, to the outrage of many LGBTQ people and their allies, from within the church and elsewhere. 

But some are skeptical about the church’s motives.

“The policy wasn’t changed for the benefit of LGBTQ+ Mormons. While we may be the subject of the reversal, we are not its intended audience. Instead, the change is designed to quiet the beleaguered hearts of Mormons burdened with the emotionally duplicitous task of loving their LGBTQ+ children, siblings, and friends, while simultaneously loving the religion that categorizes these people as inherently unequal,” wrote Craig Mangum for The Advocate.

“For many Mormons, this has proven unsustainable, which may be one of the reasons why 2018 saw the largest number of membership records ever removed in a single year.”

Watch Easton’s speech below.

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