Valedictorian Matt Easton came out gay
during his commencement speech at Brigham Young University, which is
owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)
and prohibits students from engaging in “homosexual behavior.”
“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 to 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,” Easton, 24, said in his speech to the school's College of
Family, Home and Social Science.
In a series of tweets posted after the
ceremony, Easton explained that he had already come out to close
friends and family.
“During my time at BYU, I have slowly
come out to my closest family members and friends. However, this is
the first time I have publicly declared it. I felt it was important
to share both for myself and for the LGBTQ+ community at BYU,”
Easton wrote. “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.”
While gay students are allowed to
attend BYU, the university's Honor Code declares “homosexual
behavior” as “inappropriate” and prohibited. This includes “all
forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual
The LDS Church has been a vocal
opponent of same-sex marriage.
In an interview with KUTV-TV, Easton
said he was overwhelmed by the response to his speech.
“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,” he