Brigham Young University valedictorian Matt Easton came out as gay while delivering his graduation speech Friday, reports CBS Salt Lake City affiliate KUTV.
Easton’s speech, which he gave to BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences as the political science valedictorian, was met with applause and cheers from thousands in attendance.
During that speech, Easton said, “I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.”
On Sunday, Easton talked exclusively with KUTV about his decision to come out of the closet in public.
“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 are 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 said he’d told close family members and friends he is gay but had never said so publicly.
Easton’s speech was reviewed and approved by BYU officials before he gave it.
Easton said, “I have felt another triumph; that of coming to terms, not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me be. As such, I stand before the Lord, my family, my graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that being attracted to members of the same sex isn’t a sin but acting on those feelings, including being in a gay relationship, is sinful.
Can Easton live the life he wants as a gay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
“There comes a time when I’m going to have to start thinking about these questions, you know?” he replied. “Am I going to get married? Am I going to have children? What are these pressures that my family and my parents want for me to do? Are they a reality for me? Um… those are some pretty hard questions and I don’t have the answers to all of them.”
Easton says finding support after coming out publicly is enough to get started.
“I just felt more support from such a large body than I’ve ever felt before, and I think that everyone deserves to have that feeling,” Easton said. “Overall, on the day to day, my experience at BYU was quite wonderful.”
Easton graduated with a perfect 4.0-grade point index.
BYU’s Honor Code doesn’t ban gay students from the school but says students would be in violation of the code if they engage in what the school defines as “homosexual behavior,” which not only includes having sexual relations with members of the same sex but all forms of physical intimacy that “give expression to homosexual feelings.”