A Mormon College Student Came Out During His Valedictorian Speech. He Was Inspired by Mayor Pete.

“I am proud to be a gay son of God,” BYU student Matthew Easton declared.

Wolterk / Getty

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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:

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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