Brigham Young University valedictorian Matt Easton is making headlines across the country this weekend after he came out of the closet while delivering his graduation speech on Friday.
Easton's speech, which he gave to BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences as the political science valedictorian, was met with applause and cheers from thousands in attendance.
During that speech, Easton said:
I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.
On Sunday, Easton talked exclusively with 2News reporter Kyle Harvey about his decision to publicly come out of the closet:
Not many people are given a platform where they can speak in front of all their peers and these peers' families," he said. "I was nervous. I'm still a little nervous about it. You know there's people that are telling me I went too far, people telling me I didn't go far enough. Ultimately I had to do what felt right to me.
Easton had come out of the closet to close family and friends, but never publicly.
I've never come out publicly before, I had to -- only my close relatives and my close friends, not even all of my family knew.
Watch our entire exclusive 19-minute uncut interview with Easton:
Easton's speech was reviewed and approved by BYU officials prior to the speech, which you can watch below:
I have felt another triumph; that of coming to terms, not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me to be. As such I stand before the Lord, my family, my graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that have same-sex attraction is not a sin, but acting upon those feelings, including being in a gay relationship, is sinful.
We asked Easton if he can live the life he wants as a gay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
There comes a time when I'm going to have to start thinking about these questions , you know? Am I going to get married? Am I going to have children? What are these pressures that my family and my parents want for me to do? Are they a reality for me? Um... those are some pretty hard questions and I don't have the answers to all of them.
Easton says finding support after coming out publicly is enough to get started.
"I just felt more support from such a large body than I've ever felt before, and I think that everyone deserves to have that feeling," Easton said. "Overall, on the day to day, my experience at BYU was quite wonderful."
Easton graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
According to BYU's Honor Code, gay students are not banned from the university; however, students will be in violation of the Honor Code if they commit what the school defines as "homosexual behavior," which not only includes being in sexual relations with members of the same sex but all forms of physical intimacy that "give expression to homosexual feelings."
Earlier in April, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reversed its policies regarding blessings and baptisms for children with parents who are a part of the LGBT+ community.