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Who Is Matt Easton? New Details On BYU Valedictorian Who Came Out As Gay

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Who Is Matt Easton? New Details On BYU Valedictorian Who Came Out As Gay

There are some things that pop culture has taught us about the Mormon church, and not all of them are accurate. Sure, the Osmond family is Mormon, and yep, lots of people who are Mormon live in Salt Lake City, Utah, those are two facts. But Mormons don't all believe in polygamy and they don't all disavow the gay people they know and love. Matt Easton is living proof this fact. The young man was raised Mormon and still practices the faith. During his graduation address from the stage at Brigham Young University, a historically Mormon school, he came out as a gay man. That's only the beginning of the positive impact Matt is making on the church and the world. Who is Matt Easton?

1. Coming Out As Part Of God's Plan

The Mormon church doesn't have a great history when it comes to sexuality, particularly with homosexuality. That's why it was such an epic and huge deal when graduating senior, 24-year-old Matt Easton came out during his Valedictorian speech at graduation. He received nothing but cheers of support from the crowd as he made his big announcement. 

“I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God. I am not broken, I am loved and important to 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, " he said during his inspirational speech. 

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2. His Inspiration 

So what exactly made Easton decide that now was the time to share his sexuality with his friends, family, and University community?  Easton said that his decision to give the speech came from Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is a married, out gay man with a healthy spiritual life who also happens to be running for President! Easton went on to point out an article in the Washington Post regarding Vice President Mike Pence. “That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” A comment like that directed at Pence, a man who professes devout faith, has to sting the guy — and good and it should! 

3. It's Good To Be Different

Easton's speech at his graduation wasn't just a fluke either, it marks a real shift in the culture, a positive one: “My generation, and even more so the generation after me, we’re changing the way we talk about our identity and who we are,” Easton told the Washington Post “It’s okay to be different, or not fit the norm.” 

RELATED: Ellen Page Comes Out As Gay: 'I Am Tired Of Hiding'

4. Raised Mormon 

Like many other young Mormons, Easton was raised in a practicing household in Salt Lake City, a mecca of the faith. After he graduated from high school, he even went to do his missionary work for the church in Australia before heading to Brigham Young University where he majored in political science. It was during his time at BYU that he began to grapple with his sexuality, having fears that there wasn't a place for him, a gay Mormon, in the community. 

“During my time at BYU was the first time I came to terms with my sexuality, I think I kind of blocked it out or compartmentalized it as best as I could,” he said. The school doesn't explicitly ban gay people, but it has a policy in its honor code about “homosexual behavior” that “includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” According to this policy, you break that rule and you're out. 

5. BYU Stands With Him 

Easton was graduating with a 4.0 and was quickly selected to give a speech at graduation. Of course, he knew exactly what he wanted to do from the moment he got the call that he would be giving a speech, but first said speech had to be vetted by the college itself...and they apprived it With bells!  “The dean’s office saw and approved Matt’s speech before our college convocation,” said Dean Ben Ogles of BYU’s College of Family, Home and Social Sciences. For Easton, their approval was all the final encouragement he needed. He knew it was a bold decision to make, but he didn't hesitate. “I’ve never come out publicly before. Only my close relatives and my close friends, not even all of my family knew," he added. His speech was met with the warmth that you would hope for and here's hoping it's ushered in an era of change at BYU. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr