September 16, 2020
Bringham Young Valedictorian, Matt Easton, came out as gay during his graduation speech. Easton’s graduation speech video soon went viral and has received 207,347 views.
“I am proud to be a gay son of god”, he said during the speech.
In a Monday appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show“, Easton said he was nervous about opening up about his authentic self in a speech. However, the moment felt so right to him that he had to share it.
Although Easton came out to his friends and family prior to the speech, he and other BYU students are required to abide by a strict honour code that prohibits homosexual behaviour. Because of that honour code, Easton said certain topics pertaining to his sexuality and private life had to remain off-limits in his chat with DeGeneres.
“It’s something I’ve been wrestling with my whole life and I thought, Should I do it? Should I not? Ultimately I decided there’s no better place to do it than here”, Easton told Ellen.
“I thought, I’m ready. This is a new chapter of my life. I’m graduating and I want to live more authentically, more honestly. More than that, I want to give visibility to the other students who are gay who maybe aren’t so ready to come out”.
Matt Easton teared up as he explained the reason behind wearing a white sash during the ceremony. He shared that it was a way to honour Harry Fisher. Harry was a fellow gay student who died by suicide while Easton was a freshman.
“It was his last semester and he was in sort of the same situation that I was, and he decided to come out on Facebook, and because of the rhetoric and the response that he got from our community he actually ended up committing suicide”, he told Ellen.
“He sat right in front of me, and I saw him do that, and I thought, Is that my future? Is that what I’m headed toward? So I thought, Maybe if I came out at graduation, maybe a student like me, a freshman, could say, No, my future’s something brighter, something better. We can succeed. We can do what we want and accomplish our dreams. So that’s why I chose to come out there”.
Easton will be relocating to salt lake city later this year and wishes to work within the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, DeGeneres surprised him with a check for $10,000 to help him achieve that goal.