The valedictorian at a Mormon university came out in his graduation speech, and everyone should watch this moment

The decision to come out—as well as when and how to do so—is extremely personal, and there’s no one “right” way to do it. Recently, Matt Easton, the 2019 valedictorian at the Mormon church-affiliated (and historically very conservative) Brigham Young University came out during his graduation speech. According to local CBS affiliate KUTV, Easton was the political science valedictorian at BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. When delivering his commencement speech on April 26th—with thousands of people watching—he revealed that he’s gay.

"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, to applause from the audience.

Easton shared his speech to Twitter, and in a follow-up tweet, he explained that he had never come out publicly, although he had told some of his friends and family members while he was at BYU. He added that he wanted to share his identity “both for myself and 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," he wrote.

As a university affiliated with the Mormon church, BYU asks students to follow an honor code based on the church’s principles. According to the Honor Code, same-sex attraction is tolerated, but students are not allowed to participate in “homosexual behavior.” All BYU students agree not to have extramarital sex, but “homosexual behavior” encompasses a wider range of physical affection.

"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," the code states.

Easton told KUTV that he was nervous to give the speech and that some questioned his decision.

"Not many people are given a platform where they can speak in front of all their peers and these peers' families," he said. "I was nervous. I'm still a little nervous about it. 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."

Easton’s speech is a firm reminder that LGBTQ people exist in all spaces—even ones that try to ignore or deny their very existence—and that all people deserve acceptance.

Filed Under