Latter-day Saint Life

Ellen Features BYU Valedictorian Whose Message Went Viral


Latter-day Saint Matt Easton's powerful valedictorian speech has been shared across the nation, and he recently appeared on Ellen to share more of his remarkable story.

"The white things I am wearing around my neck in my graduation is called a stole of honor and so when you wear that you get to choose somebody to honor," Easton told Ellen. For his graduation, Easton decided to honor a student named Harry Fisher, a gay Latter-day Saint who attended a class with Easton during his freshman year. That semester, Fisher died by suicide. Easton says, "He sat right in front of me, and I saw him do that and thought, 'Is that my future? Is that what I am headed toward?' So I thought if I came out at graduation, maybe a student like me, a freshman, could see, no, my future is something brighter and something better."

In order to help Easton share his message and support others, Ellen gave Easton $10,000, acknowledging, "We all want to be seen, whoever you are, we all should be seen."

During his speech, political science major Easton stated, "I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God."

Easton's message was one that reached the 10,000 people packed into the Marriott Center as well as hundreds of thousands across the nation: "Congratulations to those who felt alone or afraid or uncertain while here. To those of us who have struggled with our faith and to those who have strengthened it. Congratulations my siblings of color, my LGBTQ friends, to students who are walking with mental illness, to all those who constantly have stood in the face of adversity to make our campus better for future generations. You are seen, you are loved, and today you are here to celebrate."

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Video Companion
BYU 2019 FHSS Valedictorian Speech

In a speech that has been viewed by more than 200,000 on YouTube alone, Easton powerfully testified, "The Atonement of Jesus Christ is perfect and everlasting and through our Savior, we too can become perfect. . . . 'For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' What could be better to celebrate."

During my time at BYU, I have slowly come out to my closest family members and friends. However, this is the first time I have publicly declared it. I felt it was important to share both for myself and for the LGBTQ+ community at BYU. — Matty Easton (@easton_matty) April 27, 2019

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