BYU valedictorian Matt Easton says being gay in Mormon college was ‘hard’
Valedictorian Matt Easton, who came out as gay during his convocation speech, has spoken about his time at Brigham Young University (BYU), a Mormon college.
“It’s been hard at BYU, I’m not going to lie. I think there have been times where I’m not sure if I felt like I belonged there, if there was a place for me,” Easton told local news channel KUTV.
The political science major graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
“For me, staying at BYU was the right choice, academically, professionally, spiritually,” he added.
BYU is not ‘a perfect place for everyone’
“I’m grateful that I did [stay there], but I will always support people who need to leave that environment and find it better somewhere else,” he continued.
“If someone’s afraid or worried about their sexuality, it’s a question that they should seriously consider before attending BYU. I don’t think it’s a perfect place for everyone. Nowhere is.”
Despite the challenges associated with studying at the university, Easton also said that he “met incredible friends” and thanked faculty mentors who made him feel welcome.
“If someone’s afraid or worried about their sexuality, it’s a question that they should seriously consider before attending BYU.”
— Matt Easton, BYU alumnus
He also revealed that his powerful coming out speech was approved by college administrators and said he believes the speech would not have been allowed to happen a few years ago.
However, he also said that there is still no group for LGBT+ students and that support services do exist—but they are not well advertised.
Matt Easton said not even all his family knew he was gay before the speech
Easton also revealed that he had not come out “publicly” before delivering the speech, and said not even his entire family knew that he was gay.
“A couple of weeks ago, I just realised that not many people are given a platform where they can speak in front of all their peers and their peers’ families, and I thought, I don’t want to let this just slide by as just another convocation speech. I really want to take my chance to try to do something good,” he said.
He also said he has seen a huge swell of support since the speech went viral, and even received a message of support from his “idol” Kristin Chenoweth.
The recent graduate shared the speech on YouTube over the weekend. It has since amassed more than 60,000 views.
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‘I am proud to be a gay son of God’
“I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God,” he said in the speech at BYU.
“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.”
The honor code for BYU states that while “one’s stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue,” all students are required to “manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity.”
The code adds: “Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. 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.”