Graduation at Brigham Young University (BYU) this year was a bit different than usual. In keeping with custom the class Valedictorian spoke — but his speech was anything but customary at this Mormon college. Matt Easton announced that he is gay to the graduating class, parents, families, faculty and administration. And the crowd cheered.
BYU was founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in 1875. It doesn’t ban LGBT students outright, but any kind of physical or emotional expression of what they term “same-sex attraction” is forbidden. They keep a tight rein on straight students too, but I’m guessing heterosexuals can at least hold hands.
Matt Easton ran his proposed speech by school authorities in advance and got permission. This report was aired by NBC’s Today Show.
The Associated Press ran this report.
Easton’s entire speech on Sunday, April 28, 2019, was captured and posted to YouTube.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first high-profile coming out at BYU. About a month ago KTSU-TV Channel 13 in Salt Lake City ran this interview with Charlie Bird. He had been the school’s mascot “Cosmo the Cougar” from 2015 to 2018 — and is gay.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be moderating its view of “same-sex attraction” and has opened up somewhat to the participation of gay people in society and in the church, but there are strict limits.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second highest governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gave this interview in 2015.
The LDS website presents an FAQ on homosexuality and the church.
For more on religion and homosexuality, see Thou Shalt Not Love.
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