A valedictorian at Brigham Young University, which is owned by the Mormon Church, was not expecting applause for a revelation he made during his commencement address. But when Matthew Easton told the graduating class of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, “I am proud to be a gay son of God,” the audience let out whoops of support.
Even though the church does not allow same-sex marriage, Easton’s dean’s office supported his announcement, telling him to “go for it,” according to the Washington Post.
“I am not broken,” Easton said. “I am loved and important to the plan of our great Creator. Each of us are.”
Easton, the valedictorian of BYU’s political science department, said that inspiration from Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg helped him reconcile his sexuality with his faith. “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,” Buttigieg said earlier this month in a speech to the LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
Easton believes that the positive response to his coming out reflects a societal shift toward accepting LGBTQ identities among religious communities.
“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. When I started at BYU, I didn’t think that. I thought that I had to be what everyone before me was. I do feel from my own experience that this is changing, or maybe I’m changing. I hope that our country, my faith, my community will follow in a similar fashion.”
Listen to the rest of his commencement address here: