BYU valedictorian comes out during graduation speech

    A valedictorian at Brigham Young University came out as gay during his graduation speech on Friday.

    Matt Easton, a valedictorian of BYU's Political Science Department, gave a convocation speech for the BYU graduating class of 2019 that many will remember:

    I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.

    Easton's announcement was followed by a roar of cheers and applause as he stood in front of thousands during graduation.

    He later went to Twitter to share more about his words during graduation.

    "During my time at BYU, I have slowly come out to my closest family members and friends," Easton stated on Twitter. "However, this is the first time I have publicly declared it." He added:

    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.

    Easton continued on Twitter, thanking both BYU's Political Science Department and the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences for giving him the opportunity to share his "authentic and vulnerable self" to all who attended the commencement.

    Dr. John Holbein, assistant professor of the Department of Political Science and Easton's faculty advisor, also went to Twitter to give a supportive tribute to his student.

    "I couldn't be prouder of my student, friend and coauthor @easton_matty," stated Holbein. He continued to say that Easton was not only a great scholar but a "gem of a human being" as well when describing his character.

    Holbein also shared his reaction to the response that Easton's graduation speech has received, stating that it was a "small moment that filled me with hope."

    Easton shared his graduation speech on YouTube, where it has garnered thousands of views and many comments that shared his sentiment and showed their support.

    One commenter stated that Easton had "guts and poise" to share something so intimate to thousands of people. Others added that they were proud of Easton, calling him a "class act" and that his courage to come out as gay might've helped people in the audience, filling them with love, companionship and adventure.

    According to BYU's Church Educational System Honor Code, gay students are not banned from the university; however, students will be in violation of the Honor Code if they commit what the school defines as "homosexual behavior," which not only includes being in sexual relations with members of the same sex but all forms of physical intimacy that "give expression to homosexual feelings."

    Earlier in April, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reversed its policies regarding blessings and baptisms for children with parents who are a part of the LGBT+ community.

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