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Valedictorian who came out at BYU’s graduation appears on ‘Ellen’

May 6, 2019

Matthew Easton, who gained national attention last week after coming out as gay during his valedictorian speech at Brigham Young University, will appear on “Ellen” Monday.

Both Easton and host Ellen Degeneres teared up during the appearance.

“You are a brave man, it’s a hard thing to do to come out, it’s a very, very difficult thing for a lot of people … and then to do it at your commencement speech at BYU,” show host Ellen Degeneres said to Easton.

On the show, Easton explained that when students agree to attend BYU, they agree to the school’s Honor Code, which along with drinking, smoking and other rules, does not allow for students to be in homosexual relationships.

“It’s pretty tough there sometimes,” Easton said. “Especially if you are gay.”

“Or want a drink,” Ellen replied.

Easton explained his reasoning and how it felt for him to come out in that forum and the aftermath.

“I’m ready, this is a new chapter in my life, I’m graduating and I want to live more authentically, live more honestly,” Easton said “And more than that, I want to give visibility to the other students who are gay who maybe aren’t so ready to come out.”

Easton said that he wore his “Stole of Honor” in remembrance of a BYU student he knew during his freshman year named Harry Fisher, who came out on Facebook and later committed suicide.

“I saw him do that, and I thought, ‘Is that my future? Is that what I’m headed toward?’” Easton said. “So I thought if I came out at graduation, maybe a student like me, a freshman, can know my future is something brighter, something better. We can succeed, we can accomplish our dreams. That’s why I chose to come out there.”

Easton also received a special gift from Ellen.

“My friends at Shutterfly love inspiring stories like yours and they want to give you a check for $10,000 to help you do whatever you want,” Ellen said.

The episode will air Monday at 3 p.m. on CBS in Utah. You can also see Easton’s appearance on the show on Ellen’s YouTube channel.