There were cheers and whoops from the crowd at Brigham Young University's commencement ceremony Friday as political science valedictorian Matt Easton came out as gay during his speech. After congratulating his classmates at the Mormon university, 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," reports the Salt Lake Tribune. He added: "I am not broken. I am loved and important in the plan of our Great Creator. Each of us are." Easton, who said coming out in front of the entire college was a "phenomenal feeling," later tweeted: "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."
Easton says he submitted the speech for vetting two weeks earlier and it was approved without changes, KVUE reports. "It is hard to overstate to what extent this speech is historic—and brave," writes Natasha Frost at Quartz. BYU—echoing Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints policy—allows students to be openly gay, but bans "homosexual behavior," including "all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings," she notes. The church recently dropped its "exclusion policy," which described the children of same-sex couples as "apostates" and declared that they could not be baptized until they turned 18 and disowned their parents. (LGBT students have been among those protesting harsh punishments under BYU's "Honor Code.")