PROVO, Utah, April 28, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Brigham Young University’s Political Science Valedictorian came out as gay during his commencement speech Friday morning.
Matty Easton gave the speech to BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, at the Marriott Center, which seats 18,987 people.
Easton told the assembled crowd: “I recall countless times here at the Y when I have battled and fought in prayer with my maker. It was in these quiet moments of pain and confusion that I have felt another triumph, that I’m coming to terms not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me be. As such I stand before my family, friends and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.”
After applause, he went on: “I am not broken. I am loved and important in the plan of our great creator. Each of us are. 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.”
Easton also posted a series of tweets later Friday.
“I am feeling overwhelmed by the reaction to my words today (in the best way possible!),” he tweeted. “Thank you to all those who have expressed love and support. It means everything. I am grateful to BYU Social Sciences for allowing me to share my authentic and vulnerable self to so many in our college.”
He then went on: “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. 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 also thanked the faculty for the Political Science Department specifically.
“I can’t even begin to name all the professors and faculty who have loved and supported me academically, mentally, and spiritually,” he tweeted. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Thank you—you know who you are.”
Easton also said in his speech: “As I conclude here today I ask you all to consider; what are you here to celebrate? What are your victories that the world needs to know? I can promise that your story is important, and your place in this world is valuable. Remember this. As I look around the Marriott Center, I am overwhelmed by the sense of greatness that each of you exude. Among us are future doctors, lawyers, teachers and leaders, mothers and fathers and dreamers and doers. People who will change the world. Perhaps even more importantly are the people who will change each other and the people who will change themselves.”
The speech has been viewed nearly 28,000 times on YouTube. Comments on the speech include:
“I am sure you helped someone that was sitting in the audience who was feeling desperate, you may have even saved a life. You have a full life ahead of you, filled with love, companionship and adventure. Love is love,” and “You are a brave and incredible man. It’s people like you that make me hopeful for the future. When I was in college in the 90s in Utah, it would be unthinkable to see such bravery.”
BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Church earlier this month announced it will reverse its 2015 policy and allow the babies of LGBTQ parents to be baptized.
LGBTQ parents can request that their children be blessed under the new policy. Their children can also be baptized “if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make,” the Church said in a statement.
In addition, the Church announced that people in same-sex marriages and partnerships will no longer be classified as apostates, but as sinners on the same level as heterosexual people who have sex outside of marriage. The Church does not recognize legal same-sex marriages as legitimate.